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Speakers highlight the need to conserve groundwater level in Lahore

Posted on 23 November 2017

Lahore, November 23, 2017: World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) conducted the fifth session of the City-wide Partnership, now under the project titled International Labour and Environmental Standards (ILES) implementation in Pakistan's Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in collaboration with Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resource s(PCRWR) and Irrigation Research Institute (IRI), Irrigation Department, Government of Punjab. The aim of the session was to bring together stakeholders from different backgrounds together to discuss issues related to groundwater availability and quality in Lahore.

Alarmingly, the groundwater level is declining in Lahore with a depletion rate for the district of approximately about 2.5 to 3.0 feet per year. The water table depth in the central part of the city has fallen below 130 feet (40 metres) approximately and is projected to drop below 230 feet (70 metres) in most areas by 2025. If the present trend continues the situation will become even worse by 2040. Therefore there is an urgent need to conserve groundwater and adopt strategies at the earliest.

A case study on River Ravi was also shared in the session, which highlighted issues around the basin such as ground and surface water quality deterioration, over-abstraction of groundwater, inequitable development leading to increased water stress and increase in waterborne diseases. Stakeholders discussed and recommended solutions such as improvements in water allocations between surface and groundwater, increased levels of treatment for industrial and municipal effluent and improvement in environmental flows. River Ravi is one of the eastern rivers apart from River Sutlej and River Beas in the Indus Basin. It is a snow-fed river with a total length of 720 km, of which approximately 400 km lies in Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan said, ‘Pakistan is water stressed country and is nearing the threshold of water scarcity. Access to safe drinking water in rural and urban areas is declining and provision of potable water is a key issue that people face.’ He noted that the implementation of laws pertaining to industrial effluents generated from the textile and leather industries are very weak. Further, industrial waste from these industries contains heavy metals such as copper, chromium, and nickel. A large population of major cities in Pakistan do not have access to safe drinking water as freshwater resources are being contaminated due to multiple reasons.

Khan was also of the view that safe drinking water should be made available to the population and industries need to ensure proper disposal of solid and liquid waste. Industries should ensure that the labour force working in their facilities are not exposed to harmful chemicals. ‘WWF-Pakistan is committed to protecting the freshwater resources of the country and improving water access, efficiency, and allocation for people and the environment,’ he added.

Engr Zamir A Somroo, Regional Director, PCRWR informed the audience that PCRWR has experimented with rainwater harvesting models on a pilot scale and such artificial groundwater recharge can be a good option in restoring Lahore's groundwater.

Ghulam Zakir Hassan Sial, Director Irrigitation Research Institute (IRI), Irrigation Department, Government of Punjab, said that the depletion of groundwater has become severe over the years and that the Groundwater Act may help in the restoration of Lahore's groundwater.

WWF-Pakistan

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