High quality water is more than the dream of the conservationists, more than a political slogan; high quality water, in the right quantity at the right place at the right time, is essential to health, recreation, and economic growth. Of all our planet's activities--geological movements, the reproduction and decay of biota, and even the disruptive propensities of certain species (elephants and humans come to mind) -- no force is greater than the hydrologic cycle.
- Richard Bangs and Christian Kallen, Rivergods, 1985
Water to be supplied for public use must be potable i.e. satisfactory for drinking purposes from the standpoint of its chemical, physical and biological characteristics. However, drinking water quality has become a serious problem due to outdated infrastructure of water supply schemes, breakage in distribution system, inadequate technical capacity of water supply agencies, lack of awareness on quality issues, improper disposal of municipal, industrial and hospital solid waste and waste water. The water scarcity and increasing competition for multiple users is another factor which has adversely affected the quality of water. Deteriorated water quality due to contamination of surface and groundwater has resulted in the increase of waterborne diseases and other health impacts.
Safe water concerns have been highlighted intensely in last few years and many water purification technologies have been introduced in the country. Federal, provincial and local governments in Pakistan have installed many water filtration plants all over the country to provide safe drinking water to public.
Recently, I visited two filtration plants situated in city Rawalpindi for in order to analyze their water supply quality. One filtration plant that is located in cantonment area of Rawalpindi and the other is located at Ahmadabad Dhamial road.
The water filtration plant that is located in cantonment area is set up by So-Safe Water Technologies. This plant seems to be in good condition and the water is used only by people living in that cantonment area and is sufficient to meet their needs. When I questioned the residents about water quality of that filtration plant, some of them responded that sometimes, they feel bitter taste in that water and one of the household said that their kids got sick after drinking this water and thus, she always had to boil water for drinking purposes.
The other plant that I visited was located in Ahmadabad. The situation over there was indeed terrible. Although consumers at the filtration plants were apparently satisfied regarding hygienic conditions of the water plant yet it seemed that people did not pay any heed towards the quality of water as the major problem faced by them is that the capacity of the filtration plant does not meet their daily requirements.
In the whole area of Ahmadabad, there is only one filtration unit which fails to meet the needs of large population of the area. The locals said that they had to wait for 3 hours for filling their cans as the water pressure in taps is very much low. However, the person responsible for opening and closing of filtration unit said that people did not understand that the filtration unit was installed for providing only drinking water not for their bathing, washing and other domestic uses. He said that one person filled approximately 20 buckets per day. The main reason behind all this is the extreme shortage of water in the whole area of Ahmadabad. Out of ten houses, hardly one house had its own drilled well or boring system whereas the rest of the population depended on supply water which was supplied only once a week. The situation of the area has remained similar since 8 to 10 years but the responsible authorities do not take any steps to solve their problems.
I, myself, am inhabitant of the adjacent area of Ahmadabad and cannot understand the reason why the problem of this area has not been solved even after this long. I am hearing from my childhood that this area has sever water problems yet I never heard if anyone, individual or a department, took any step to improve the situation. Maybe people living there are still unaware of their rights and due to lack of awareness, illiteracy and unfavorable socio-economic conditions, the situation of this area is not improving. Concerned authorities should pay attention towards this kind of neglected areas where residents are facing severe problems regarding water availability.