Consequences of water scarcity in Mauritius

Water is a precious resource and its shortage can have devastating consequences. The lack of rainfall and the overuse of water resources have caused severe water shortages, with fishes dying in tanks and completely dry faucets. Despite these alarming signs, it's still not raining in some areas and the water reserves are running dangerously low.

Mauritius is facing a major issue of water scarcity. It is a water-stressed country that experiences seasonal droughts. This has caused serious water shortages in many parts of the country, with many families affected. The year 2023 has only just begun, but it already promises to be filled with challenges for companies hoping to produce more and better. 
In Mauritius, our main source of domestic water supply is groundwater (50%) which is abstracted through 163 boreholes. The remaining 50% is derived from surface sources such as impounding reservoirs and rivers. The average groundwater levels for the period ending 15 December 2022 showed a declining trend and are currently below average. A report dated 27 December 2022 claimed that the average tank rate has reached the critical 35% mark. This situation is very alarming as the level of the water tables dropped between 50% and 70% while some rivers have dried up.

Recent rains have brought some relief to our reservoirs, but it takes even more rain for the filling rate to reach a reasonable threshold, for example, Mare-aux-Vacoas has a volume of water for about two weeks. As of Sunday, the filling rate of our seven main reservoirs was 36.5%. Every 100 mm of rain brings 186 million cubic metres of water. From that about 30% evaporates, 60% runs off and 10% feeds groundwater. 45% to 50% of the water we consume comes from groundwater. Our water consumption has also increased throughout the years. Water consumption per person has increased from 152 litres per day in 1990 to 170 litres per day in 2010.

We need regular rain for our reservoirs to fill up to a moderate level to fulfil our needs. However, this does not appear to be the case. The Midlands Dam and the Bagatelle Dam faced significant challenges in meeting the increasing demand for water caused by population growth, water-intensive industrial activities, tourism, and an increasing number of expats living in the country. The agricultural industry consumed the most water (305.0 Mm3 or 89%), while the manufacturing sector (12.3 Mm3) and households (12.5 Mm3) each accounted for 5.4% of total consumption.
We will have to manage our water use for months, especially since water is used for a range of purposes, including domestic, agricultural, industrial, and hydroelectric purposes.

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