Around 80 percent water supply schemes in Rawalpindi are providing contaminated water, thus leaving the people at the risk of serious diseases like hepatitis, jaundice and diarrhoea.
The outcome of the technical assessment survey of water supply schemes, conducted in the domains of seven tehsils of Rawalpindi district, has revealed that water supply schemes are providing piped water for drinking purposes, to meet household needs and for other multiple uses to an enumerated population of 1.4 million people on 385 surveyed water schemes.
The survey, conducted by Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources ( PCRWR) has summed up that the performance of these schemes in terms of providing water in an adequate quantity and of safe quality, is extremely poor.
This inability and inefficiency may be judged from the fact that 38 percent of the schemes are presently not functioning. As a result, nearly 60 percent of the total enumerated population remains unserved by the water supply schemes.
Talking to APP, PCRWR Spokeswoman Lubna Naheed said lack of proper management, operation and maintenance of the water systems was one of the critical issues of the water supply schemes in the district.
On the overall, 68 percent of the total 148 non-functional schemes have been found as temporarily closed while 32 percent are permanently closed.
For the temporarily non-functional water schemes at present, the common problem encountered in these schemes is a complex of various institutional, financial and technological issues.
The survey shows that the identified reasons for the temporarily closure of schemes are: lack of repair of mechanical and electrical components, missing transformers, breakage and damage in water distribution systems, insufficient water at source and communal disputes on collection of funds.
PCRWR Chairman Dr Muhammad Aslam Tahir said water from 76 percent of the water sources of the functional schemes was unsafe for drinking purposes and 75 percent of these schemes with unsafe water had the microbiological contamination.
The quality of water being supplied to the consumers through the distribution systems, indicates that 85 percent of the functional schemes supply water, which is unsafe for drinking and 82 percent of these schemes are supplying water, which has microbiological contamination, he said.
The survey manifests that awareness about the hazards of the unsafe drinking water and the importance of safe drinking water is totally negligible.
There appears no concept regarding use of safe water for drinking purposes among the general public and the managers of water supply schemes.
The PCRWR spokeswoman said many flaws had been found in the design of water supply schemes. It appears that water distribution systems have not been designed for simple, trouble-free operation and be capable of being operated and maintained by local manpower, she added.
In a large number of schemes, where water is obtained from surface sources such as streams and nullahs, the source is located at a considerable distance from the locality.
But neither proper size motors have been provided for pumping water, nor any arrangement has been made for booster pumping and overhead tanks.
The PCRWR chairman said it necessitated a programme of rehabilitation coupled with redesigning of water supply schemes in the district and the priority should be given to the older schemes. The remedial work should be based on the estimation of present and future water requirement for the increasing population, he said. app