Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to spare!
Water is the basic necessity of life, and having access to an adequate amount of fresh and clean water is our fundamental right. We know that a major part of our Earth is covered by water, yet a very small percentage is actually potable. Add to that an ever-growing population and global climate change, and what results is water scarcity. Lack of clean, drinking water has become a global problem as water demand increases and supplies shrink. Around the world, this sensitive issue is being addressed with great surveillance. The same water crisis is being faced by Pakistan, more so by Karachi which is the Megacity of Pakistan with a population of around 20 million.
Why water scarcity?
The main water supply of Karachi was from the Hub dam which has nearly dried out and now the fresh water sources are mainly from the Keenjhar lake and River Indus. The water shortages regularly faced by Karachities are mainly due to a failing supply and distribution system and the lack of proper planning for water conservation. Our outdated infrastructure is often struck with leakage or blockage problems, which contributes greatly to the inadequate water supply.
The critical issue of water scarcity must be resolved by the government with a proper conservation and augmentation strategy. The existing water supplies must be conserved and priority should be given to the ongoing schemes at a fast pace.
Contaminated water supply – the root cause of problems
Freshwater resources are both important to society and ecosystems. We depend on a reliable, clean supply of drinking water to sustain our health. But, when there are poor sanitation system and poor water treatment planning, the water-borne infections like (Cholera, Typhoid fever, Hepatitis A, etc.) get more prevalent in the area. Karachi being the industrial hub, and the busy, bustling city that it is has its water bodies tainted with untreated toxic waste dumped from the industries.
Sewage water contaminating our fresh water sources is another problem linked with arising health issues. Clean water sources get mixed up with impure water due to the sewage lines getting linked with the fresh water lines and the poor water treatment system.
The local population is equally responsible for water pollution, with open dumping of plastic waste and organic debris into the drains. The occluded sewage lines then overflow, and stagnant water provides an excellent breeding source for mosquitoes carrying dengue and malarial parasites.
Lack of proper water treatment
Apart from the unorganized distribution network, the Chlorination and water treatment plants are too less in number to meet the needs of Karachi, and out of them, only a few are in optimal working condition. The filtration plants are not working at full capacity and most of the water is supplied unfiltered which poses the public to health risks.
On our end, we must install filters in our homes, and make sure to boil the water before using it for cooking and drinking purposes.
Agriculture and economy
Being the agricultural state, the economy of Pakistan largely depends on crops and cultivation. For this, there is a not-so-well-designed canal irrigation system, most of the water being lost to seepage during its conveyance through the lengthy canals. A lining of water canals can reduce this problem to a great extent. Additionally, agriculture is deeply impacted by salinity and water-logging problems, and farmers have to use contaminated or saline water to grow crops. Drought conditions are faced in the arid parts of Sindh, more so after the annual episode of floods with no great measures to control that.
Being the lifeblood of Pakistan’s economy, water problem with its agricultural effects cannot be laid aside and needs to be addressed seriously.
How to create a difference?
With the rapid urbanization and industrialization in Karachi, the revision of water availability in its accordance and working out a sound water conservation strategy is the need of the time. It is ironic that a matter so momentous and catastrophic has never been heeded the way it should be, rather it has been always taken casually. The combined effort of a whole community is surely going to create a big difference, and as the citizens of Karachi, we should do our part to conserve water by:
- Avoiding its wastage e.g. by using bucket water to bathe rather than shower or bathtubs.
- Reducing the shower time and make it a quick one, like 10 minutes. Shorter the shower, greater the savings.
- Do not leave the taps running while brushing teeth. Get the leaky faucets repaired.
- Plus, keeping our reservoir tanks clean and sewage drains free of blockage.
“Use HiClean water purification tablets, that are rapid dissolving effervescent chlorine tablets lethal to pathogenic bacteria, viruses, spores, algae, fungi and cysts and are suitable for applications in emergency water disinfection, water tanks and systems. Just add 1 -2 HiClean tablets per 250 gallons or 1000 liters of water, wait 30 mins before usage.”
Guest Post Credit: Dr. Kanwal Ansari (BDS, RDS)