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April 20, 2018

Water crisis may hit Islamabad soon


April 20, 2018

Islamabad: The water storage in the Simly dam, the second largest source of water supply to the federal capital is likely to hit the ‘dead level’ by the third week of June, 2018 if the water withdrawal from the dam continued at the present rate of 20 million gallons per day (MGD).

The upcoming expected water crisis is caused mainly because of two factors. One is the nature, as there were not enough rains and snowfall in the catchment area of the Simly reservoir. And the second is the man-triggered because, despite the clear warning from nature, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) failed to chalk up a strategy and continued to draw 35 MGD from Simly even during the winter months.

Shahid Sohail, the former Member (Engineering) of the CDA warned that the Simly reservoir may hit the dead level even before the third week of June if the water supply to Islamabad and Rawalpindi is stopped from Khanpur dam, which also is a possibility keeping in view the dry winter we had.

“If that happens then the CDA would be required to link sectors G-10/F-10, G-11/F-11 and D-12 with the Simly water supply lines, turning the water crisis even more critical to handle,” Shahid Sohail said. If the current dry weather spell continues, then the supply from Khanpur dam to Islamabad/Rawalpindi is likely to be stopped by mid-May.

Simly dam has an optimum water storage level of 2,315 feet above sea level and its optimum storage capacity is 7,440 million gallons of water and the evaporation rate is 2 million gallons per day.

On April 19, 2018 the Simly reservoir level was recorded at 2,259.40 feet above sea level and the 1,500 million gallons of water is in the storage out of which 20 MGD is being drawn daily for supply to the federal capital. The dead level of reservoir is 2,233 feet above sea level.

Till December the CDA was drawing 35 MGD from Simly reservoir but now it has been reduced to 20 MGD already. The CDA cannot reduce this drawl any further to maintain enough pressure in the pipeline.

It was learnt that the during the recent sporadic rains and cloud bursts in the catchment area of Simly reservoir were not enough to generate surface run of water and these showers were hardly enough to increase the reservoir level substantially.

“We need some prolonged wet spells in the catchment areas of Simly reservoir over the next month. Otherwise the water crisis in the federal capital and its surroundings will become critical,” the former Member (Engineering) of the CDA said.

“The lack of rain have not only affected the water storage in the water reservoirs, but it has resulted in depletion of subsoil water level as well, a factor which will badly impact the output of tube wells sunk by CDA for water supply,” he added. The tube wells are the largest source of water supply to the residents of Islamabad.

The former Member (Engineering) also said that there are a huge number of illegal water connections made by the people living in the villages through which the main pipeline from Simly filtration plant passes.

“These people have damaged the main pipeline at numerous points that causes a big loss of water. And this phenomenon is not new. But over the years this problem has become incontrollable and would be yet another reason for acute water shortage in the coming days,” Shahid Sohail said.

‘The News’ repeatedly tried to contact the sitting Member (Engineering) Sajjad Zaidi and Director Water Supply, Nasir Jamil Butt, but they remained inaccessible.

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