Hyderabad was once known for its natural and manmade wetlands, including reservoirs, barrages, rivers, streams, aquaculture ponds, tanks, ponds and lagoons. Its main water supply used to come from the Musi River. Consequently, more water sources were built to meet the growing city’s demand for water, including the Majira and Krishna Water Supply projects.
In spite of all this, today, the city is facing a major water emergency, with its four major reservoirs - the Himayat Sagar, Osman Sagar, Singur and Manjira reservoirs — bone dry for the first time in 30 years.
Hyderabad is running out of water because its wetlands are running dry.
Wetlands in Hyderabad are fast disappearing due to rampant development, high levels of pollution, inefficient waste management, unplanned construction in catchment areas and encroachment - contributing to the acute water crisis that Hyderabad today faces.
The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board supplies water to about 70% of the population. However, the city suffers from distribution losses as the water is sourced from over 100km. The supply remains intermittent and water only reaches people every alternate day.
When dirty, polluted sewerage water flows into a wetland constantly, it is bound to degrade. This is what’s happening to most wetlands in the city of Hyderabad.
As people wash clothes on the banks of the city’s lakes and as fertilizers and pesticides from agricultural fields flow into the water bodies, wetlands in the city are getting increasingly polluted.
From 7.7 million in 2011, the population of Hyderabad has grown to 8.7 million in a matter of five years!
There has been a 264% increase in the slum population in and around the city in the last decade - with 30% of the city's people believed to be living in slums in 2014.
It is clear that Hyderabad’ population is growing at a steady rate. Its wetlands, however, are not.
This means that in a few years, there will be even more pressure exerted on the city’s finite and (already) over-exploited resources - pushing Hyderabad into a severe water crisis.
The city and its people need to take conscious measures in order to ensure that the city does not run out of water.
While there are numerous organizations in the city that are working on restoring the city’s wetlands and preserving its rich biodiversity, you too can do your bit!
Click here to see how you can help our taps, our wetlands and our cities from running dry!
Shaped like a heart, the Hussain Sagar lake dates back to 1563 – and separates the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. It is spread across an area of 5.7 sq km and is fed by the Musi River.
Till the 70s, Hussain Sagar had beautiful clear waters, was known for its fish and supplied drinking water to the downstream parts of the city.
However, due to unplanned urbanisation, the entire ecosystem of the lake began to change. Placed midway, the lake turned into a sewage collection zone for the twin cities.
In spite of commissions, set up to protect the lake, large amount of untreated sewage and industrial effluents continue to flow into the lake.
Also known popularly as Gandipet, Osman Sagar is a rain-fed reservoir located in Hyderabad. The lake supports many varieties of birds, flora and other fauna.
Measuring up to 46 sq km, the reservoir was created in 1920 by damming the Musi River - to provide an additional source of drinking water to Hyderabad and to protect the city after the Great Musi Flood of 1908.
However, once a source of drinking water for Hyderabad city, the lake can no more meet the city’s water demand – owing to a fall in its water levels and a rise in the city’s population.
Rain-fed and located about 20 km from Hyderabad, Himayat Sagar is an artificial lake. It lies parallel to the Osman Sagar Lake.
The storage capacity of the reservoir is about 3.0 thousand million cubic ft (TMC). However, today, because of low water levels in the lake, it can only supply about 113 Million Litres of water per Day (MLD) as opposed to the 180 MLD (approximately) that it previously supplied.
Mir Alam is a reservoir in Telangana - located south of the Musi River. It was built by the then Prime Minister of Hyderabad state, Mir Alam Bahadur, during the reign of the third Nizam of Hyderabad.
Before the Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar reservoirs were built, Mir Alam used to be the primary source of drinking water for Hyderabad. It covered an expanse of around 625 acres, during its prime. However, it has now shrunk in size to 347 acres, according to the records from the Mandal Revenue Office (MRO).
Kapra Lake is located in the Kapra municipality area of Greater Hyderabad.
A decade back the lake was deemed pristine and pollution free but it has now become severely polluted and susceptible to encroachments. With new apartments and houses around the lake dumping their sewage into the lake and people from nearby market places dumping waste and plastic bags, the lake is on its way to a slow death.
According to a 2002 survey, the area of the lake - initially 113 acres – has now been reduced to a mere 70 acres because of encroachments.
The GHMC has recently listed 25 structures (encroachments upon the Kapra Lake) liable for demolition. As a part of the citizens' initiative to protect the Kapra Lake, a rudimentary Lake Protection Body has also been formed. However, these initiatives have largely remained ineffective.
Shamirpet is an artificial lake, built during the reign of the Nizam and located about 24 km north of Secunderabad.
The lake attracts many birds and is an excellent bird watching spot. There are many resorts and private dhabas around the lake.
The Shamirpet Deer Park that lies near the lake stretches over a vast area of 54 acres. It is a natural habitat for the Blackbuck, Chital deer and several other wild species. The lake with its thick forested area is also a popular picnic spot.