The Case For Drinking Water

clean-water-1.jpgContaminated or polluted water contains harmful germs or chemicals. The water that does not contain any parasites or poisonous chemicals is known as safe water. Water that looks clear is not always safe as it may contain thousands of germs. It is important, however, that water should not only be safe but also acceptable in terms of taste, appearance and odour, says one of the definitions of ‘contaminated water’.

Unfortunately, our public is very ignorant when it comes to judging the quality of water. They still perceive running water as clean water. I remember how I used to be taken aback while trekking with some local trekkers who would stop at every stream to fill up their bottles. On looking at the surprize look on my face they used to “inform” me that this is running water and it’s clean so come on have a drink, to which I had to give them a detailed lecture on Cryptosporidium and Gardia, and hazzards of drinking running water from glaciers without proper sterilization and treatment. People only talk of water shortages; they never talk about the quality of water. But I think before taking a sip from a glass of water they should question themselves whether the water is safe or not.

According to a report on Drinking Water Quality Monitoring in the Rural Areas of Islamabad Capital Territory, water samples collected from different rural localities around Islamabad did not contain any harmful chemical constituents, but showed a high content of microbiological organisms.

According to a Water Supply and Sanitation in Pakistan report, Islamabad is a classic example of an indifferently managed system. The per capita availability of water in this city is one of the highest in the region. However, the distribution system operates intermittently.

It goes without saying that a system operating irregularly will not deliver safe water to the consumers. During shortages, tankers draw water from the system and supply it to consumers who are connected to the same system. There could be no better example of a poorly managed utility.

Water supply in the Islamabad Capital Territory is based on four different sources. Small water works in Saidpur, Korang, Shadhra, and Nurpur, supply from Simly Dam and Khanpur, shallow wells, and tube wells.

Out of 1400 kilometres long water pipe line across the capital only 13.5 kilometres of the line are watertight.

There are a number of agencies in Islamabad that are concerned with water monitoring such as Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), National Institute of Health (NIH) Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. However, lack of coordination and resources obstruct them from making full use of their expertise. We have water quality standards but the issue is enforcement.

Although water supply line is sterilised, so is the water running inside it. But there are sometimes accidental damages. And the main reason for that is the lack of coordination between our agencies as there are many agencies working in the streets for electricity, gas, street light, or cable, with no clue of coordination or knowledge of piping networks.

The catchment area of this region is shrinking. Due to the activity going on here, the recharge is also going down. The problem has been aggravated by boring done illegaly by the residents of some of the sectors. The aquifers are quite deep and receding with the passage of time. CDA has the ability and expertise to bring water from other sources, but what about others? What will be the catchment area? It’s just absurd. It’s not possible.

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