Thursday, October 8, 2009

Peshawar: Water shortage in near future

PESHAWAR: The Peshawarites would face acute water problems in near future as the water table in Peshawar and surrounding areas is gradually falling, according to official sources. The sources added that the water table had fallen from 15 to 20 feet in the Peshawar valley, affecting the performance of tube-wells in many parts of the city. The water table, engineers said, had gone down in other parts of the province as well, particularly its southern belt and the adjacent tribal areas, causing shortage of water. The drought-like situation, which started in 2000, had affected over 2.2 million acres of agricultural lands in the province, according to a report compiled by the planning, environment and development department. The situation had forced a large number of people of southern districts to migrate to other areas. Many tube-wells ran dry in the city following which town municipal administrations had to connect additional pipes to make them operational. The residents of Hayatabad, University Town, Shaheen Town, Canal Town, etc., are facing water shortage. In Town-I alone, they said, 200 tubewells were in operation and added that capacity of each tube-well was around 10,000 gallons per hour. According to a report, by the year 2025, 52 nations comprising half the world's population, will have a severe shortage of potable water. In the next 25 years, some 3 billion people will be facing water shortages. In Pakistan, the vast majority of the country's 135 million inhabitants do not have access to drinkable water. Pakistan's attempt to raise the living standards of its citizens has meant that economic development has largely taken precedence over environmental issues. Unchecked use of hazardous chemicals, vehicle emissions, and industrial activity has contributed to a number of environmental and health hazards, chief among them being water pollution. Much of the country suffers from a lack of potable water due to industrial waste and agricultural runoff that contaminates drinking water supplies. Poverty and high population growth have aggravated, and to a certain extent, caused, these environmental problems. This means that most people are forced to use unclean water not only for all their sanitation needs, farming, and livestock but for drinking as well. For much of the population, often there is only one water source. It may be a nearby river or pond, maybe rain water from a catch basin or a creek. Typically, the water source is used by both humans and animals. People use it for bathing, washing up, doing laundry, collecting for cooking, and drinking. Needless to say, the water is anything but clean. Drinking water that is unsafe can, and usually does, lead to all sorts of health-related problems such as dysentery which is severe, prolonged diarrhea with bloody stools, fever, and weakness; cholera and typhoid; flukes stagnant, polluted water, especially in tropical areas, often contains blood flukes. If you swallow flukes, they will bore into the bloodstream, live as parasites, and cause disease; and leeches. If you swallow a leech, it can hook onto the throat passage or inside the nose. It will suck blood, create a wound, and move to another area. Each bleeding wound may become infected. Pakistan is currently in the midst of what some are saying is the worst water crisis the country has ever seen. The drought affecting the region threatens agricultural output, and levels in the country's reservoirs are dangerously low. While drought and pollution play a significant role in the lack of safe drinking water, some critics maintain that a large part of the problem is a result of poor management. By some estimates, as much as 60% of Pakistan's fresh water is allowed to go wasted, flowing back into the sea. Only 40% of the water is used. It is imperative that Pakistan seeks out new and cheaper ways to provide safe drinking water for its people. Some experts have looked at inexpensive desalination techniques, ones that could be employed on a mass scale. To be sure, this precious commodity, the very lifeblood of humans, is getting scarcer and scarcer everyday.