Water table depletion reaches dangerous level
RAWALPINDI, July 21: With Rawal Lake outliving its 50-year design life and underground water table depleting up to 380 feet due to excessive pumping of water, the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) on Saturday sent summary to the Punjab government for installation of additional 28 tubewells in the city for meeting drinking water needs.
Water table in the Potohar region has depleted by 380 feet in the last 30 years due to dependency on tubewells, forcing the underground water level to seep deeper and deeper with no recharging the source that could restore the plummeting water table.
Director-General Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) Chaudhry Naseer Ahmed, who has also served as Wasa managing director, told Dawn that the depleting water table in Potohar region was due to climate change.
“Just 20 years back, the availability of ground water in the area was 60 to 70 feet and now you have to dig the earth by almost 400 feet for reaching the water,” Mr Naseer said suggesting that it was need of the hour to utilise surface water sources like Indus river, Jhelum river and construction of reservoirs.
It costs Rs2.5 million to dig and make a tubewell functional and installation of the proposed tubewells means that Rs70 million would be spent on a dangerous practice that has already sucked ground water.
PML-N lawmakers in the city have recommended installation of new tubewells, as according to political observers, tubewells are playing a key role in wooing voters, keeping in view the scarcity of drinking water in the city.
After installation of the new tubewells, Wasa would hire 50 staffers for operating the machines by recruiting operators, valve men and security guards.
“Since water supply from Ghazi Barotha has been delayed by Capital Development Authority (CDA), we have no other option but to meet drinking water requirements by digging more tubewells,” Director Water Supply Wasa, Akram Soban said.
He acknowledged that excessive withdrawal of underground water was causing depletion of the water table but argued that there was no perennial surface water source in the twin cities, except Rawal Lake and Khanpur Dam for drinking water.
However, he said that Punjab government had allocated funds for Daducha Dam that would supply 25 million gallons of water daily (MGD) to Rawalpindi for the next 50 years.