As the delta districts celebrate the Kaveri Maha Pushkaram the once in 144 years event in a late season flourish Southwest Monsoon has possibly given a parting gift to the Cauvery Basin making a far more comfortable situation compared to 2016. As most regular observers would know Southwest Monsoon holds the key for almost all of the major reservoirs of Tamil Nadu with most of them dependent on the rains in Western Ghats during this period.
Yes in the past Northeast Monsoon has possibly often provided the opportunities for many a reservoir to overflow and possibly creating floods but the foundations for those years have been built on the back of a good Southwest Monsoon period. Just like the dams in the Cauvery Basin all the other important dams of Tamil Nadu had seen historic lows during the pre monsoon period of 2017. Hence it was imperative that some bit of storage gets built with possibly a good NEM augmenting it for a better base next year. While we are not out of the woods yet on the back of a good few days of Southwest Monsoon over the last week or so the storage levels in most dams have shown appreciable increase with the storage more than doubling since August 28th.
Cauvery Basin also has benefited a lot from this spell of active monsoon conditions over the course of the last few days with the inflows improving a lot thanks to the rains in Kodagu, Hassan districts of Karnataka & the Wayanad district of Kerala. The overall storage in the basin is now inching closer to 100 TMC with possibly 1/3rd of that coming in the last one month or so on the back of a strong week of monsoon. Mettur will also possibly see higher storage than last year when the outflow from Kabini is realized in a day or two.
But look a little deeper one can see a trend evolving as far as Cauvery River Basin goes. Can the River recover fast enough from a bad year? 2014 was the last year when one saw the overall storage in the Upper Riparian Basin nearing full storage levels. Since then if one looks at the storage pattern in what was a below average year 2015 has kicked off a deficit cycle which has got aggravated by the extremely bad 2016 . Looking at the trend it appears a miracle is needed every year for River Cauvery to not disappoint its stakeholders year on year.
With the river struggling to recover from a bad year it becomes very important that we start practicing prudent water management as a long term measure than hoping Southwest Monsoon is perennially bountiful