Water Shortage in Islamabad

There is an acute shortage of water in Islamabad and hardly anybody is paying attention to this growing problem. In Sector G14/4 for instance there is no piped water and every house has sunk a well to draw this precious commodity from underground aquifers. The subsurface water is decreasing at a very fast rate. Underground water is not being recharged as fast as it is being depleted and often no water is found even at the depth of 300 feet. People constructing houses end up sinking more than one bore at exorbitant expense ranging from Rs. 750 to Rs. 1000 per foot. The cost of sinking a well can cost in excess of Rs one hundred thousand. Most of the people living in the fast expanding sprawl have already stopped drinking water supplied by the Capital Development Authority (CDA). Bottled water is the norm. Islamabad today has a population of roughly two million people – a fourfold increase in the last few decades. The civic authorities are supposed to provide the essential utilities like electricity, water and security to the denizens of Islamabad. Like many other cities of Pakistan this obligation to the citizens has been abdicated by the city managers. The shortage of electricity is covered through generators or inverters, most commonly known as Uninterrupted Power Suppliers (UPS), private security guards provide protection to those, who can afford and almost everyone tries to dig a well in his or her home because the municipal water supply is uncertain or too little.

Recently a protest launched by the common people to highlight the shortage of water to the Mayor of the city but no one knows if this led any fruitful solutions. According to water experts the designed capacity of the available water resources for Islamabad is around 107 million gallons per day (mg/d). The major source of surface water is Simly dam. Groundwater is obtained from tube wells installed in the National Park area. Spring water is diverted from springs located at Saidpur, Nurpur and Shahdra-hills. These calculations discount the wells that everyone is sinks in one’s home. Water shortage to urban households is also being made up by water tankers that sell water at their own price that vary from Rs 1000 to 1200. There is no regulation on this private supply of water.

Unregulated water tankers must be brought under the law and so should the practice of boring wells for households. This will dry up aquifers and ground will rapidly sink causing a huge ecological disaster. However, stopping this practice will not be the solution for those needing regular water supply. The growing population of Islamabad needs water and new and dependable sources need to be discovered to keep the citizens supplied of this urgent commodity. Hot weather and frequent droughts will only exacerbate this situation.