2019 Chennai water crisis

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The 2019 Chennai water crisis is an ongoing water crisis occurring in India, most notably in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. On 19 June 2019, Chennai city officials declared that "Day Zero", or the day when almost no water is left, had been reached, as all the four main reservoirs supplying water to the city had run dry.[1][2] Two years of deficient monsoon rainfall, particularly in late 2017 and throughout much of 2018 had led to this crisis.[3]

Because tap water has stopped running, some families have been relying on alternative water sources such as distant, unreliable public water pumps, and costly private water tankers.[4]


Chennai has historically relied on annual monsoon rains to replenish its water reservoirs since the rivers are polluted with sewage.

There are four reservoirs in the city, namely, Red Hills, Cholavaram, Poondi and Chembarambakkam, with a combined capacity of 11,057 mcft.[5]

Extreme drought[edit]

The 2018 northeast monsoon season was one of the driest ever recorded in Chennai, as only 343.7 mm of rain had fallen compared to an average of 757.6 mm, which was a 55% rainfall deficit. Additionally, the entire state of Tamil Nadu had recorded a 23% rainfall deficit in that season.[6] A major heat wave in India from May to June 2019 further exacerbated the problem by evaporating any water still left in reservoirs.

Government mismanagement[edit]

Government mismanagement and unplanned construction has also been a factor to blame for this crisis.[7]


Millions of people are without consistent access to water. A lack of rainwater and groundwater has left four of the reservoirs that supply the city completely dry. The inability to meet demand for water has forced businesses like hotels and restaurants to close. Water tankers from areas of Tamil Nadu unaffected by drought have been bringing water into some areas of the city. However, government tankers can take up to a month to appear after requested, so some families, wealthy residents, and business owners have opted to pay for costly private water tankers. The poor who live in slums do not have this option; a family in Chennai's slums may receive as little as 30 litres (7.9 US gallons) of water every day compared to an average American household which uses 1,150 litres (300 US gallons) of water a day.[8][4]

Many fights over water have also broken out as a result of the conflict. In one such conflict that occurred on 15 June 2019, a woman was stabbed and the perpetrator was turned in to the police.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Murphy, Paul P.; Mezzofiore, Gianluca (20 June 2019). "Chennai, India, is almost out of water. Satellite images show its nearly bone-dry reservoirs". CNN. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  2. ^ Varadhan, Sudarshan (20 June 2019). "Hotels, companies cut back on water use as taps run dry in Chennai". Business Standard. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  3. ^ India Today Web Desk (20 June 2019). "Rain respite for parched Chennai, IMD predicts moderate showers for next 6 days". India Today. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b Masih, Niha; Slater, Joanna (28 June 2019). "As a major Indian city runs out of water, 9 million people pray for rain". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  5. ^ Lakshmi, K. (23 October 2012). "Rains replenish city's reservoirs". The Hindu. Chennai: Kasturi & Sons. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Dry end to monsoon season, all time low rainfall in city: Met | Chennai News - Times of India". The Times of India. 23 December 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  7. ^ Lakshmi, K. (June 28, 2019). "Chennai's Day Zero: It's not just meteorology but mismanagement that's made the city run dry". Retrieved 1 July 2019 – via www.thehindu.com.
  8. ^ Yeung, Jessie (19 June 2019). "India's sixth biggest city is almost entirely out of water". CNN. Archived from the original on 20 June 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  9. ^ "28-year-old Chennai woman stabbed by neighbour over water dispute". The New Indian Express. 15 June 2019. Retrieved 29 June 2019.