• KWSB claims using 240 chlorine cylinders to disinfect water in a month
• Blames unregistered tankers for supplying contaminated water
• Advises people to use one chlorine tablet in a 1,000-gallon water tank every fortnight
KARACHI: After deaths of three people in the city last month due to the fatal brain infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, colloquially known as a ‘brain-eating amoeba’, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board KWSB has woken up from slumber and started collecting water samples from different places to check the prevalence of the deadly organism.
The deaths of 32-year-old woman in Qayyumabad on May 24, 45-year-old man in Surjani Town on May 26 and 19-year-old in Saddar on May 28 due to primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, which is a rare brain infection caused by Naegleria, have terrorised residents in the city.
The three fatalities also left a big question mark over the chlorination of water supplied from hydrants and water lines by the KWSB as the victims did not have any swimming history.
Speaking to Dawn, KWSB Chief Executive Officer Engineer Syed Sallahuddin Ahmed claimed that the water utility was making all-out efforts to eradicate Naegleria.
“While the required dosing of chlorine is being added to the water supplied to citizens according to the standard and quantity set by the World Health Organization, the process of adding chlorine to the water supplied from the Hydrants Cell is also ensured,” he said.
Responding to a question, he said as part of its own investigations the process of collecting water samples from areas where Naegleria-related deaths had been reported was started to ascertain the source of the contaminated water.
He claimed that the KWSB was adding proper quantity of chlorine to water at its nine filter plants located at six different locations.
“Regular chlorine is being added to water from Gharo Filter Plant, COD Filter Plant, Hub Filter Plant, NEK Old, NEK II and Papri Filter Plant,” he said adding that all the filter plants were working round-the-clock for proper chlorination.
The KWSB CEO said that the water utility used about 240 chlorine cylinders per month as required.
“The KWSB adds chlorine to the water in two stages; in the first stage, pre-filtration chlorination is applied at about 1pm, while in the second stage, post-filtration chlorination is done at 2pm,” he said.
Mr Ahmed said that apart from this, the Lab Unit Staff of the KWSB was checking the dose of chlorine in the water in different areas of the city.
Sources in the water utility said that a large number of water carriers were bringing water from ponds near Hab Dam in Sakran posing a great danger of Naegleria outbreak and other water-borne diseases as the water supplied from the outskirts of the city was unchlorinated.
There is a possibility of contamination of sewage in the water supplied to the citizens through KWSB lines in some parts of the city, the sources said.
They said that people widely used suction pumps to get water from the supply lines and when there was no water in the lines the suction pumps sucked the sewage from nearby joints of the lines, thus contaminating the water with sewage.
Advice for citizens
Illegal water tankers, contamination of tap water and silting in the overhead and underground water tanks are stated to be reasons for water-borne diseases.
The water board authorities have advised people to have cleaned their buildings underground and overhead water tanks on a monthly basis.
“The citizens should use one chlorine tablet in a 1,000-gallon water tank which is enough for 15 days,” he said adding that the tablets were easily available in market.
Replying to a question, he said that there were seven hydrants of the water utility and one belonging to the National Logistic Cell (NLC) providing 18 million gallons of water daily through over 750 registered water carries across the city.
He advised people to get water through only registered tankers to ensure that they got chlorinated water.
“People must ask the tanker operator to show the licence issued by the water utility,” he urged.
The water utility chief said that teams had been constituted to check swimming pools in the farm houses in the city and certify the use of chlorine in the pool water. “The swimming pools with chlorination will be sealed,” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2023