Groundwater is a crucial resource for irrigation and domestic water supply in both rural and urban areas. However, overexploitation has led to significant depletion of this vital resource.

According to a recent Central Water Commission (CWC) report, water levels in reservoirs of southern Indian states are alarmingly low compared to the previous year and other regions in 2023.


Monitoring and Current Status:

The CWC monitors 42 reservoirs in southern states: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. In September 2023, water stocks were at 48% of total storage capacity, dropping further to 46%.

Typically, during normal monsoon years, usable water reserves in southern India reach 91% of total storage capacity. Despite normal rainfall across the country in 2023 (820mm, 94% of the Long Period Average), the south peninsular region experienced weak monsoon rains.

Rainfall Variability:

There was significant inter-seasonal rainfall variability during the southwest monsoon. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) recorded normal or above-normal rainfall in south peninsular India only during July 26-August 3 of the four-month season.

In the previous year, Karnataka received 18% below-normal rainfall, the lowest since 2015, and the post-monsoon period did not provide much relief.


Drinking Water Crisis in Bengaluru:

The water shortage extends beyond Bengaluru, affecting the entire state of Karnataka and neighboring areas in Telangana and Maharashtra, highlighting a widespread crisis.

Irrigated Farming:

The diminishing water supplies have a profound impact on high-water-intensive paddy farming, predominantly practiced in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.


Southern India has a unique aquifer system characterized by rocky formations that do not hold much water. These aquifers deplete and recharge quickly.

The Central Water Commission indicates that Karnataka reservoirs currently hold only 26% of their full capacity, at least ten percentage points lower than the expected levels for this time of year.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish June 24, 2024