New Delhi CNN  — 

The floor of the Chembarambakkam reservoir is cracked open, dry and sun-baked. About 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) away, in Chennai, India’s sixth largest city, millions of people are running out of water.

Chembarambakkam and the three other reservoirs that have traditionally supplied Chennai are nearly all dry, leaving the city suffering from an acute water shortage, said Jayaram Venkatesan, an activist in the city.

Srini Swaminathan, who took this photograph of Chembarambakkam reservoir from a plane, told CNN: "I have been living here since 1992 and have never seen anything like this before."

Due to an inability to collect sufficient rain water combined with low groundwater levels, the Tamil Nadu state government has been struggling to provide water to residents.

With the reservoirs dry, water is being brought directly into Chennai neighborhoods in trucks. Every day, hundreds of thousands of residents have no choice but to stand in line for hours in soaring summer temperatures, filling dozens of cans and plastic containers.

Indian residents stand around with plastic pots filled with drinking water at a distribution point in Chennai on June 19, 2019.

Suresh Subburaman, a resident of Chennai and owner of the Nivis Kitchen hotel, has been struggling to keep his business afloat.

“We are open and we are somehow functioning. But we are running at a no-loss, no-gain situation. This is our only business. We have no other option. We have to run it,” said Subburaman.

“Earlier the water would come every day at home. Now, we get it every three to four days. We store the water in a small tank or 20-liter plastic pots at home,” said Subburaman whose home is in Egattur neighborhood on the southern outskirts of Chennai.

M. Senthilsaravanan, another hotel owner and resident, said: “In (the) Chennai area, hotels and restaurants have shut down because we are not getting sufficient water and there is high demand.”

Senthilsaravanan lives in the Navalur suburb of Chennai and pays about 6000 rupees ($86) every other day for a tanker to deliver water to his hotel, Quality and Taste.

The private tankers come from the outer areas of Tamil Nadu state which is not suffering shortages. But the demand is so high they cannot supply on time, Senthilsaravanan said.

With supplies strictly rationed, many wealthier families have taken to relying on expensive private water tankers.

Although the municipal body has worked to prioritize low-income households, residents who book government water tankers could still wait up to a month.

It’s not immediately clear how many are without water in Chennai presently.

Men sit in the shade of a measuring tower at the dried-out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai on Friday.

Chennai’s last census, conducted in 2011 showed the city’s population at 4.6 million.

In 2017, 605,510 homes were tapped into a government-run water connection, according to a report from the Tamil Nadu state government’s Department of Economics and Statistics. Each connection gets 120 liters per capita per day (lpcd) and during a drought, it is reduced to 70 lpcd, the report said.

Use of private tankers to provide water are mostly inaccessible to those living in the city’s slums. Around 820,000 people live in slums in the city and cannot afford access to private tankers, the 2017 report said citing the 2011 census data.

CNN has reached out to the government of Tamil Nadu for comment.