Islamabad had been getting around two million gallons daily of water from Rawal Lake based on an agreement from the early 1960s when Rawal Dam was established. — White Star
Islamabad had been getting around two million gallons daily of water from Rawal Lake based on an agreement from the early 1960s when Rawal Dam was established. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: Although the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is confident it will be able to resume water supply from Rawal Lake to Islamabad, there are still various obstacles to be cleared, including the settlement of a water rate dispute between the CDA and the Punjab Irrigation Department.

Another issue is that the CDA will have to restore the city’s old water supply infrastructure, which has been almost destroyed after more than two decades of neglect.

Senior CDA officials confirmed that the water supply system, including pipelines and open canals, needs to be restored.

Acting Member Engineering Ayaz Khan said water from Rawal Lake would soon be transported to a reservoir near Shakarparian, and the necessary infrastructure would be made functional soon.

“The capital city was getting around two million gallons daily (MGD) of water from Rawal Lake based on an agreement from the early 1960s, when the Rawal Dam was established. The supply was discontinued in 1996 after consumers complained that the quality of water was not good,” he said.

Water rate dispute still needs to be settled; Supply infrastructure has been destroyed by two decades of neglect

Unlike the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) in Rawalpindi, which gets potable water from its treatment plant near the lake, the CDA would get untreated water from the lake, and its treatment will likely pose another challenge since the quality of water at the lake has deteriorated since the 1990s because of human settlements upstream.

The CDA plans to improve water quality at its treatment plant near the Sports Complex, but that too needs to be made functional since it has not been used for more than 10 years.

Officials from the Punjab Irrigation Department, which manages Rawal Dam and has the rights to the lake’s water, confirmed that 2MGD belongs to Islamabad in light of the traditional agreement.

“We received a delegation from the CDA and it was made clear to them that the water supply would be resumed as soon as they fulfill the formalities and their infrastructure is ready to be connected to our water tunnels,” an irrigation department official said.

The officials said an open canal that was connected to one of the water tunnels is almost nonexistent because it has been filled, while the water pipelines under Murree Road at the Rawal Dam roundabout appear to have been lost.

Carrying water from Rawal Lake, across Murree Road and onwards to the Shakarparian reservoir or the treatment plant near the Sports Complex, will be a significant issue for the CDA.

Acting Member Engineering Ayaz Khan said the civic body plans to build a new pipeline under Murree Road at the Rawal Dam roundabout as soon as work on the interchange there begins, but the construction of the interchange has been delayed due to litigation.

Another CDA official said the other hurdle to the plan was that of water charges; while the civic body wanted to pay for the old rate of Rs0.19 per 1,000 gallons, the irrigation department was demanding Rs6 per 1,000 gallons, on the grounds that this was the rate charged for water supplied from Khanpur Lake.

A senior Punjab irrigation official, on condition of anonymity, said supply would only resume after an agreement is signed between the two departments, and they have not yet received a letter regarding the water supply from the CDA.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2020

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