Reservoirs in Parched Chennai, City of Millions, Are Dry. Can Better Forecasting Avert Future Crises?

The megacity in southern India, as it waits for the monsoon, is not the first to run short of water. It won’t be the last.

Residents of Chennai, by all accounts, are miserable and anxious. The city’s main reservoirs are dry, depleted by the failure of successive monsoons to provide replenishing rains. The shortfall has crippled the piped distribution network, which is now meeting just half of typical demand through a mix of secondary sources: desalinated water, groundwater, and the impoundments from nearby stone quarries. Even that supply is far from adequate. Piped water reaches households once a week or less. Tanker trucks, an expensive alternative, dole out water by the bucketful to desperate crowds.

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A Torrent of Water and Concrete Imperil Chennai’s IT Boom

Ecological distress imperials Chennai's IT corridor.

Chennai’s Security Tied to Cleaning Up Its Water

Water supply and quality motivate Tamil Nadu’s most dynamic social movements.

India Features

The country that pumps more groundwater than any other has reached a water supply and food safety reckoning that threatens to upend political and economic stability, and long-term public health.

In this special report, building on years of on-the-ground coverage, Circle of Blue reveals how a nation of 1.3 billion people, by failing to protect its water, is courting disease and economic hardship as well as social upheaval.

Hand in hand with the groundwater depletion and contamination, is a food supply “toxic time bomb” of global implications. When irrigation wells go dry, farmers turn to untreated wastewater that is laced with industrial chemicals and human sewage.

As one villager said, “The water moved from providing life to taking lives.”

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Reporter Wins Award for His Work on Choke Point: Tamil Nadu

Sibi Arasu honored for his reporting on the environment, including two articles from the Choke Point: Tamil Nadu series.

Groundwater Plummets in Delhi, City of 29 Million

Experts warn that Delhi could reach “zero groundwater levels” by 2020.

Groundwater Scarcity, Pollution Set India on Perilous Course

Drained and contaminated aquifers contribute to India’s “worst water crisis.”

Recovery Begins in Kerala, Where Historic Flooding Killed Hundreds

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More than 1 million Kerala residents were displaced by the worst flooding in a century.

Toxic Water, Toxic Crops: India’s Public Health Time Bomb

Raw sewage and industrial wastewater contaminated with metals and chemicals irrigate much of the India's food.

Booming Infrastructure Poisons Bangalore’s Lakes, Depletes Groundwater

Bangalore’s largest lake is so contaminated that it routinely…

India’s Severe Drought Causing Havoc

Water scarcity forces millions of people off of farms and into…

Analysis: India Seen As Vital Player at Paris Climate Conference

Opportunity to shift from coal to cleaner energy is real and needed.

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Choke Point: India

Choke Point: Tamil Nadu

Chennai’s Security Tied to Cleaning Up Its Water

Water supply and quality motivate Tamil Nadu’s most dynamic social movements.
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This is Tamil Nadu

A storm-swept southern Indian state displays uncommon civility, camaraderie, and great food
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India’s Toxic Trail of Tears

An unending legacy of poisoning, pollution, and chemical pain.
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Pursuing Riches, Miners Plunder Tamil Nadu’s River Sand

Unrelenting demand for cement drives the illegal and damaging sand mining industry.
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A Torrent of Water and Concrete Imperil Chennai’s IT Boom

Ecological distress imperials Chennai's IT corridor.
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Water Scarcity Causes Cauvery Delta Anguish

Worst drought in 140 years leads to farmer deaths, water riots, policy impasse.
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Chased by Drought, Rising Costs, and Clean Technology, India Pivots on Coal-Fired Power

World’s third-largest coal user joins China and U.S. in shift from black fuel.