An Analysis Of Waterworks In Islamabad

FreshWater.JPGDuring the water crises in Islamabad last year, a significant amount of my time was spent pondering on current water situation in Islamabad. Further more time and again I have been posting on water issues ranging from wastage to contamination. However I always felt that there should be some realistic figures and numbers that could be insightful for the citizens, so that they can have an objective assessment of the situation. Ergo, I worked on doing some research and came to some interesting facts and figures, that I have summarized in this post.

As we would all agree clean drinking water is one of the basic needs of life. Capital Development Authority is responsible to arrange, treat and deliver potable water to 0.8 million citizens of Islamabad The primary sources are tube wells, raw water of open reservoirs and channels The distribution system comprises of large pipe network, sumps and service reservoirs.

Stats.JPGThe statistics in the image to the right shows the per capita consumption of water in Islamabad as compared to some of the other cities. Source: Asian Development Bank, Asia Pacific Region.The population of Islamabad would be 2.619 million by the Year 2030. Average water demand of 80.50 MGD shall increase to 232 MGD. ( Source MMP) According to studies by JICA population of Islamabad would be 1.006 million in Year 2010 and water demand would rise to 123.8-MGD.

From the perspective of analayzing water works in the capital this post is divided in following parts

Existing water supply system.
Sources of contamination.
Deficiencies and Hazards.

Simly.JPGIslamabad basically has three sources of water supply. Dams, Headworks, and Ground Water. The Dams include Simly which has a capacity of 42.00 MGD, Khanpur with a capacity 51.00 MGD and the Sangjani Dam. Head works include Kurang with 4.00 MGD capacity, Sandspur with 0.800 MGD, Noorpur with 0.70 MGD, Shah Dara with 1.60 MGD. Ground water primarily comprises of Tube wells having a cap of 34.00 MGD and the Augmentation Scheme, National park area with a cap of 12.00 MGD. We have a total of 180 tube wells. Chlorination is primarily done by Hypo chloride in liquid form in populated areas, while Chlorine gas is used in tube wells located away from population. Islamabad has 9 service reservoirs with Sector F-5 having a capacity of 7 mgd (million gallons per day), Sector F-5 1 mgd Sector F-6/3 5 mgd, Sector E-10 7 mgd Sector E-10 5 mgd Faisal Mosque 2 mgd, Shakarperian 1 mgd, Sector H-11 5 mgd (Not operative) Shah Allah Ditta 3 mgd

Distribution_System.JPGThe distribution system in the capital like any other city in the world consists of Service reservoirs, conduction mains delivery mains, Sumps overhead tanks and the distribution pipe network. There are three major sources of contamination to the water supply here. These include surface water contamination, contamination in distribution system, and contamination at the user end. Surface water contamination is primarily being caused by disposal of untreated sewage in streams, disposal of municipal waste in streams, untreated hospital waste, poultry farms waste, industrial waste, laundries chemicals and detergents, service stations and workshops disposing lubricants. Contamination in distribution systems is due to intrusion of contaminated water in leaking water supply pipes, leaking gate valves, use of asbestos cement (AC) pipes, unclean and unprotected sumps. Finally contamination at the user end is due to unclean and unprotected under ground and over head water tanks, leaking under ground water tanks, and storage of water for longer periods.

The most important issue is the current state of CDA’s water management system and the major problems with it. For example, Chlorination system is defective at Korang, Noorpur and Saidpur water works. No chlorination system is installed at four Sumps of Sector I-8, one sump of I-10 & F-11 and two sumps of Sectors G-9 and G-10. Simly Filtration Plant Phase-I sedimentation tank needs to be cleaned, its sludge removal system needs to be repaired and filter media is not being changed/replaced regularly. Open water channels are full of algae and fungi. Saidpur Water Works filter media is not replaced on due time. Water channels are also not clean. Water works are not properly fenced/closed for trespassers and animals. There is no standard operating procedure to change and clean the media filters and water storage tanks etc.

Furthermore G-I pipe network laid about 50 years ago has out lived its life. Over dozing of chlorine during chlorination, causes lead coating on G-I pipes to contaminate treated water.Pipe joints and gate valves are often found to be leaking. Sewerage and water supply lines have been laid side by side in streets having small right of way. Service sumps and over head tanks have mostly never been cleaned. Small safe drinking water filtration plants established in various sectors, do not have any standard operating procedure for changing the filters.

Water_Production_Losses.JPGIt was hard for me to believe when I found out that a considerable quantity (estimated approx 55%) of treated water gets wasted. There is no detection and attention of big leakages in lines passing from natural streams. Leaking lines and valves are never repaired. Most water reservoirs are leaking There are illegal water connections. The most idiotic of technical blunders is the installation of water pumps on the water lines. And most important is the misuse and wastage of water by consumer which I have have highlighted time and again in some of my other posts.

So basically it can be concluded that consumer confidence is down due to adverse impression created by media and various reports. However not everything is bad. Water testing laboratory due to change to organizational structure as a third party is reporting factual position to top management, which is making a positive effect on water quality. But the water testing laboratory is under staffed and with out necessary equipment.

PIMS_Data.JPGDespite all the dismal picture, contrary to what I expected, results of bacterial parameters of said 50 samples revealed that 80% sources are supplying safe water. Data obtained for the indoor patients of PIMS for the year 2005 reveals that, out of total 18870 patients only 2.84% had water borne diseases. According to PIMS data, the deaths caused by water borne diseases in 2005 are only 16 out of 5559 deaths caused by various diseases that is only 0.29% of total deaths. Also CDA water can not be termed as the only source for the water borne diseases. But the cost of quality borne by CDA is an eclipse on its good will. Cost borne by the society due to poor quality of water, can not be determined accurately.

As a recommendation to the CDA guys to help improve the current situation a bit, it is important that they control 55% treated water wastage by proper waste water management and repairing of broken/damaged water supply lines. Preventive measures must be taken at all levels to stop contamination of water. The schedule of replacement of filters and cleaning of plant should be displayed for the consumers at the filtration plant. They can boost consumer confidence, by participation of community representatives in monitoring the replacement of filters at drinking water filtration plants. There should be awareness to keep water tanks clean by regular cleaning. There should be awareness campaigns for people living up stream of water reservoirs and control of contamination sources. There should also be rehabilitation of water works, replacement of defective parts and posting of trained staff as per requirements.

I hope this study motivates some one from the citizens of Islamabad to take up an extensive effort by involving CDA and the community for a safe, healthy and drinkable water with minimum line losses.

8 Comments so far

  1. Don Cox (unregistered) on July 15th, 2007 @ 10:30 pm

    What you say about wastage is common in other cities. For example, there was massive wastage through leaks in Basra. There were big pools of escaped water lying in the streets.

    The British army installed 200 km of new plastic pipes, which greatly reduced the problem. It isn’t so hard, it just needs somebody with a bit of will power.

    The bigger problem with leaks is that sewage can get into the pipes as well as water getting out. That kills children.

  2. Don Cox (unregistered) on July 15th, 2007 @ 10:36 pm

    Is your water supply run by a company or by the government? Here in the UK, private companies run it all, with a government body overseeing their performance.

    We pay bills to the company.

    I recently had a meter installed so that I know pay only for water I actually use, not for an estimate. That gives an incentive to cut waste (although there is no shortage of water here in Northern England).

  3. backpacker (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 2:21 am

    We have a government body by the name of “Capital Development Authority” which apart from looking at many other matters, like construction, town planning, etc. looks after the water supply too. The problem aggravates in summer. We have been lucky this year to have received a good rain fall. However a couple of years ago, the situation was like a mini drought in the capital. Also growing population of paper mulbery is causing the water table to lower. I have discussed that part elsewhere on this blog too. For any system to be sustainable over time it should be maintained, and enhanced. Unfortunately CDA is mostly relying on a half century old system, without any significant long term efforts planning, or implementation.

  4. Sajjad (unregistered) on July 17th, 2007 @ 6:22 pm

    I’m a bit shocked to see all the water that is wasted in construction and by the home-owners here. Hose pipes were banned in England years ago, yet we use them for everything from washing cars to watering our plants.

    Concrete/cement requires constant moisture to set and this is usually achieved elsewhere with the use of special sprays or plastic sheets which slow down evaporation. Here, we spray the water directly and then keep spraying to replace all the water that is lost.

    Then there’s all the water lost through leaky taps and faulty plumbing. There’s lots we need to fix.

  5. Majid (unregistered) on July 17th, 2007 @ 8:18 pm

    an excellent academic article on the water situation in Islamabad. Its quite clear that the situation is bleak and will remain so until investment occurs in basic infrastructure.

    My real concern is that if this is the situation in the best planned city in Pakistan, what is the state of the rest of urban/rural Pakistan.
    We often hear cases of a spate of water-related illnesses and water shortage right next door in RWP as well as the cases last year in Hyderabad. It seems that once again successive governments are worried about power-politics and not about basic provisions for citizens of this great country.

  6. sophia (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 3:20 pm

    Hi, excellent post.. I’m working on an urban study of Islamabad at the moment and was really interested to read your observations about water shortages… 55% wastage is a hell of a lot.. Why do you think is that water consumption is so high in Islamabad compared to other cities? I agree with Majid that it’s depressing how little thought and energy the government puts into infrastructure.

  7. backpacker (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 11:56 pm

    Sophia that was an interesting relevation for me as well from the ADB report and 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.Still maybe you can do some research on this aspect and share with us. If you find something interesting you can always share your them with us through “suggest a story” feature in this blog.

  8. Sophia (unregistered) on July 20th, 2007 @ 8:50 pm

    I’m heading back to Isloo for a few days on Tuesday and I’ll let you know if I find anything interesting as far as water is concerned.

    My worry is that a lot of the large planned developments spring up on the outskirts of the citylike Bahria Town are going to use vast ammounts of water and ultimately put a huge strain on Islamabad’s water supply. I reckon the city’s water consumption per capita is just going to keep on increasing over the next few years but the question is whether the already strained system is going to be able to cope with this

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