UMIAM LAKE also known as BARAPANI or BIG WATER is a scenic place tucked away amidst the hills of Meghalaya, around 15km away from Shillong.- It was created by damming the Umiam River in the early 1960s. The principal catchment area of the lake and dam is spread over 220sq.km.
Apart from storing water for electricity generation, the lake also provides a large number of ecosystem services at micro and macro levels. Downstream irrigation, fisheries and drinking water cater to local anthropogenic needs.
The lake has the distinction of being primarily an artificial reservoir for the first Hydel Project. The confluence of 2 streams —— UMKHRAH & UMSHYRPI form the WAH RO-RO stream in the north-west of the town and joins River Umiam, the main source of water for the lake.
Rapid urban growth has transformed the lake into a sink for Shillong’s waste and natural streams/rivers feeding the lake into open drains. Shillong is situated upstream of the lake, and there is a big problem of silting. An estimated 40,000 cubic metres of silt enter UMIAM LAKE every year. Causes range between upstream encroachments, de-forestation, blockage of natural drainage systems and unscientific mining et al. in the catchment area. Excessive silt-load, in the lake, has lowered the storage. Recent research by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), confirms that the water, in the rivers UMKRAH & UMSHYRPI is contaminated with sewage. UMIAM LAKE is polluted and the water is unfit for any domestic use, except irrigation without conventional primary treatment.