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No shortcuts to capital’s water shortage

June 10, 2013

ISLAMABAD, June 9: Though water shortage in Islamabad has become a major issue for its residents, officers of the civic agency are talking about only long-term projects and have no shortcuts to the problem.

When Dawn approached a number of officers in different departments of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), they said this year water was not a big problem as it was last year, but electricity outages had made it difficult for them to ensure smooth supply to the consumers.

However, when they were reminded of the problem being faced by the residents, they said the issue can be resolved only by plugging leakages and replacing old supply lines.

An officer of the CDA water management department requesting not to be identified told Dawn that E-7 was the only residential sector which had no shortage of water.

The main reason for this, according to the officer, was that this sector had spacious houses and its population was not big. In contrast, new houses were being built in other sectors and it was not easy to meet their rising water demand.

In ‘F’ series, the problem is also not acute, because it has less number of houses. Besides, there is a natural slope which provides a gravitational pull to water coming from F-6 towards F-11.

“The main problem is in ‘G’ and ‘I’ series. In these sectors, water is provided from Simly Dam. This year, due to excessive rains water level in the reservoir is at the highest level.”

But due to increasing population and development work in these sectors, demand for water has been increasing.

Water from tubewells

The water supply department officer added: “Though in ‘I’ sectors, we supply water through tubewells, it is a complicated process. Underground water is extracted through tubewells near Korang Nullah and purified at a treatment plant at Pona Faqiran before being supplied to sectors at a distance of about 16km.”

He said there were three pumps of 300 horsepower each installed on the way to ensure smooth water supply to the sectors.

“In case of power failure, neither tubewells nor pumps can be operated and the supply stops. It takes an hour to build the pressure in the supply lines again.”

The officer said last week on the directions of the CDA chairman, water supply department was provided eight electricity generators for running tubewells and pumps. Another five generators will be handed over to the department in the coming week to streamline the supply, he said.

Hard-hit sectors

Residents of ‘I’ series have been facing severe water shortage. As a result, consumers in these sectors try to get water from the CDA water complaint centre (tanker service) at I-9.

But as almost every resident is facing problem, people start reaching the complaint point early in the morning.

Khalid Mehmood, a resident of I-9, said he had tried all possible ways such as registering complaints with the CDA to get water but to no avail. “In my house, we don’t have water even for ablution,” he said.

Mohammad Amjad, a resident of I-10, added that he had made a boring in his house around five years back but in June and July the water level reduces and he has to rely on CDA water supply system. “After monsoon, water level once again rises and I can get water through the boring.”

CDA tanker service

Another officer in the water tanker section of the CDA on the condition of anonymity said they had 32 tankers in a working condition but their tyres needed to be changed due to which the service was not being provided to every house.

“On Saturday, the CDA management arranged new tyres for the tankers and now we can provide water to consumers easily. One tanker can provide water to three houses in one go.” He said one tanker can have five rounds in a day and can supply water to 15 to 20 houses.

From where the tankers get water

According to the official: “We have two water filling points at G-10, one in I-9, one in G-9 and one near the government hostel on Embassy Road in G-5. We try to fill our tankers from the point nearest to the complainant’s house and supply it to them.”

He said a meeting of CDA officials was scheduled for Monday during which the water supply department would demand 10 to 15 private tankers to make supply system effective,” he said.

Sanaullah Aman, the CDA member engineering said there was a requirement of 200 million gallon daily (mgd) of water but the CDA was getting only 70 mgd from all its sources like Simly Dam and tubwells.

What is the solution?

There are two solutions to the water shortage, said Mr Aman. The supply pipes, which have leakages be replaced all over the city. For this, Rs11 billion are required.

“I have suggested that the pipes should be changed sector-wise.” He said Rs800 million would be required to change the pipelines in each sector. The supply lines in the old sectors should be changed first, because over 40 per cent water goes to waste due to the leakages.

The other solution, the official added, was to bring water from Indus River through pipelines. Hopefully, the new government will provide funds for the project to resolve the issue on a permanent basis, he added.