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LAHORE: The Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) has sought to introduce amendments to bylaws so as to making it compulsory for private housing schemes to have adequate arrangements for rainwater harvesting and wastewater treatment plants.

Besides this, Wasa also plans to construct six mega wastewater treatment plants at various spots in the city.

Rainwater harvesting is a method of collecting, storing and conserving local surface runoff rainwater for future use. For this, the government needs to design various techniques.

“A majority of private housing schemes in Lahore don’t have arrangements, even at a smaller level, to harvest rainwater. The problem is causing great inconvenience to the public, especially during monsoon when the city appears to be flooded with rainwater. The issue is also becoming a headache for Wasa that has to utilise a large workforce and several equipments, machines to drain out rainwater,” Wasa Managing Director (MD) Syed Zahid Aziz told Dawn on Monday.

According to an internal report, authorities have conducted various surveys for Lahore. The studies, including one conducted by Wasa, reveal that 2,000 tubewells are being run in the provincial capital. “Ground water depletion in Lahore is about 1,083 million gallons per day and annually it is about 396 billion gallons, lowering underground water level at 2.5 feet per annum,” reads a presentation submitted to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) by Wasa.

It says that since a majority of residential areas in Lahore are occupied by private housing schemes, there should be harvesting wells to save storm water by injecting water underground so as to increase the water table. The document mentions that as per private housing society rules certain portions are reserved for parks, playgrounds and public places. So injection wells could be constructed there; they will not only receive storm water from parks, but also from the vicinity.

Harvesting wells could also be constructed in lawns of houses covering more than 10 marla. Storm water from rooftops and ground water could be diverted through drainpipes into these wells.

The Wasa MD said that to bind private housing schemes to ensure such arrangements, the LDA would require getting bylaws amended by its governing body. “These bylaws are related to the approval of housing schemes’ layout plans. And under the proposed amendments, the LDA will only approve the map if the developers undertake to have arrangements for rainwater harvesting and wastewater treatment,” he explained.

He further claimed that Wasa had acquired land for four wastewater treatment plants. “These plants worth Rs100 billion are being constructed at Mehmood Booti, Shadbagh, Shahdara, Babu Sabu and Hudiara drain,” he added.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2018