While news on the monsoon front remains bleak (rainfall during June 1-17 coming in 45% below normal), another worry is that water levels in reservoirs across the country are dwindling. Latest data monitoring the water stock in 81 key reservoirs across the country that account for 72% of India’s total reservoir stock indicate that current storage is 15 bcm – just 10% of full reservoir capacity and 20% of last year’s storage. While reservoir levels are typically lower at the onset of the monsoon, they are lower this year even in comparison to the past due to average rainfall last year and the absence of pre-monsoon showers this year.
A much further delay in the monsoons could result in states reducing the supply of water for irrigation, and conserving it for drinking purposes instead (individual states manage the water levels in their respective reservoirs). Thus while 58% of India’s net sown area is dependent on the monsoons, dwindling water reservoir levels could impact even the balance 42% of the area not dependent on the monsoons.