Independent water chlorine tests done away with
KARACHI, Oct 19: The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and the provincial health department decided on Friday that the final report about the quality of water would be issued by the KWSB laboratory and district health offices will stop conducting independent tests, it emerged on Friday.
Acting upon the directives of the Sindh health secretary, the district health offices across the city have stopped their independent surveys of piped water.
The district health offices had begun collecting water samples on their own during the past week, sources told Dawn. The sampling and analysis of water was being conducted in the wake of growing public concern over successive Naegleria deaths.
The district health authorities had thought that additional tests would help ensure immediate improvement of water quality and would restore public confidence, the source added.
However, the KWSB, the city’s sole water supplier, was said to have been perturbed over the parallel tests being conducted by district health officials, according to an official of the board.
It believed that the results were not reliable and also created unnecessary confusion among the public about the chlorination of water by disseminating ‘so-called results generated by the district health office’.
The official said that the KWSB had also requested higher government authorities to look into the matter.
However, officials of the water board and the district health department began discussing the matter on Thursday and were able to reach a final decision on Friday.
After a meeting between the KWSB Managing Director, Misbahuddin Farid, and provincial health secretary Aftab A. Khatri on Friday, it was decided that joint inspection teams would be formed to inspect and maintain the quality of water.
Inspectors from the water board and the health department would collect the samples together and submit them to the KWSB laboratory.
According to Mr Farid, separate surveys had been done away with on Thursday.
“The KWSB will issue a chlorination report after a joint survey every day.”
When contacted by Dawn, the provincial health secretary, Aftab A. Khatri, said that he took up the issue of water chlorination on Friday at a joint meeting of the KWSB and district health officers.
It was decided that the district health offices would stop conducting independent tests for the time being, he said. The district health offices would collect water samples with KWSB officials and they would submit them to the KWSB laboratory.
The officials also discussed the matter of contradictory reports.
It was decided that the final report would be issued by the chief chemist of the KWSB and its copies would be sent to the media and other authorities.
When the issue of confusion being created by contradictory reports came up, EDO Health Dr Imdadullah Siddiqui claimed that neither did he sign any reports nor did he forward them to the media.
The health secretary and the EDO insisted that 2.5ppm (parts per million) of chlorine should be added to water at KWSB reservoirs while the board should ensure that the water being supplied has a chlorine level of 0.5ppm.
However, Mr Farid said that he was quite satisfied with the amount of chlorine being added to the water and invited the health department, town administrations and NGOs to join the KWSB team to help improve the quality of water.
Both the water board and the health department were asked to ensure transparency in the results and not to compromise on the quality of water at any stage, said Mr Khatri.
“Sampling is not a big issue and I personally feel that setting up joint teams would help provide a clearer picture of the water being supplied to the city,” he added.