ISLAMABAD: To help bridge the gap between demand and supply of water in the federal capital, an artificial groundwater recharge site was opened in Kachnar Park on Friday.

The pilot project is an initiative of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Pakistan, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) and WaterAid Pakistan.

The artificial groundwater recharge site has been launched through the project, “Demonstration of nature-based solutions for improving the resilience of groundwater aquifers in Islamabad.”

Funded by WaterAid, the project has identified seven potential groundwater recharge sites in Islamabad.

Speaking at a media briefing, Dr Mohsin Hafeez, country representative and regional representative Central Asia, IWMI, highlighted water challenges in Islamabad which have increased due to wastage of rainwater and horizontal expansion of the capital city, over-abstraction of groundwater resources, poor water supply, sanitation and hygiene issues and unsustainable use.

Under pilot project, seven potential groundwater recharge sites identified in Islamabad, says official

“Islamabad receives 1,400mm rain on average annually. By conserving only 30 per cent rainwater through artificial groundwater recharge sites we can bridge the demand for 46 million gallons water per day against the 45 million gallon per day supply,” the official explained.

He said IWMI had developed the first state-of-the-art artificial groundwater recharge pilot site equipped with complete instrumentation to measure groundwater quality, groundwater level, rainfall and the amount of rainfall injected into the aquifer.

The project will provide evidence-based information on rainfall contribution towards groundwater replenishment in Islamabad, Dr Hafeez explained.

“To overcome water scarcity challenges in Islamabad, IWMI has recommended to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to install rainwater harvesting tanks at the household level,” he said.

Kachnar Park was selected for its excellent rainwater availability and suitable underground storage capacity of three feet deep, 566,000 litres of water. Experts pointed out that the twin cities would likely receive 40pc more rains this monsoon season.

PCRWR Chairman Dr Mohammad Ashraf said the solution to the water supply challenge was linked with rainwater harvesting for groundwater recharge, which needed to be up-scaled to address groundwater depletion issues.

He said compared to the annual average rainfall in Islamabad, the groundwater depletion was about one metre.

“It means that if we conserve the available rainwater efficiently through recharge, we could easily manage the demand and supply gap through groundwater,” he said.

Joint Secretary Ministry of Water Resources Mohammad Yahya Akhunzada urged the media to sensitise public on rainwater harvesting for watering plants and conserving water resources at large.

Rana Shakeel Asghar, Member (Finance) CDA, spoke about the efforts of IWMI, PCRWR and WaterAid in piloting the initiative and hoped that it will help recharge groundwater.

He said keeping in view the increasing water requirements of Islamabad, rainwater harvesting was important to recharge groundwater.

For this purpose, 100 groundwater recharge sites were being constructed by CDA in collaboration with PCRWR. CDA planned to further increase the number of groundwater recharge sites.

Country Director WaterAid Arif Jabbar Khan said Pakistan was faced with challenges related to drinking water, both in terms of quality and quantity of surface and groundwater.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2022

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