Everybody has been yelling at us about a potential water crisis looming over Pakistan. Even many people have rightly started campaigns over mainstream electronic, print, & social media for building up water reservoirs within the country on war footings for averting the disastrous impacts of the crisis. Well, the significance of the water reservoirs in wake of a potential water-crisis cannot just be neglected under any circumstances. But will constructing dams alone be the “Solution” at all? A big NO is the right answer here!
There is a lot more we all need to do, together, in this regard. From the legislation onwards to the compliance on the ground and till the water distribution and the ultimate consumption, it’s really a long but a well-coordinated trail of actions that need to be taken seriously not only by the Government but by all its consumers at large.
The very first action we even can start doing right now is nevertheless the water preservation i.e. saving the existing water. Yes! Every one of us must start saving the water from now onwards. Using water responsibly is a key trick to save water. Remember! The water once gone to sewage is wasted because we do not have any mechanism to filter and recycle the sewer water for its further extended utilization. This would undoubtedly be nothing less than our greater contribution in slowing down the pace of water depletion from the eco-system until the scientific structural and nonstructural measures for avoiding the potential of a water crisis would have been taking place in parallel.
While talking about the long-term and permanent solution to the potential water crisis, promulgation of an effective but coordinated legislation followed by a complete manual of corresponding water policies and their proper implementations across the board is fundamentally important. The legislation has to address the transboundary water conflicts with neighboring nations like India and Afghanistan, periodic desilting/maintenance of rivers & reservoirs, riverbed encroachments & modifications, construction of new dams & water infrastructure, water theft, fair water distribution, watershed management, preservation of subsurface water, rainwater harvesting, water filtration/recycling, water conservation strategies, floodplain management, and further research to explore new water-security & water-economy based avenues for the future. It’s quite obvious that competent hydrological engineers, subject specialists, and geologists need to be taken on board while drafting the legislation, working papers, concerned policies, and the implementation plans/programs.
Moving along, the establishment of a completely autonomous Water Regulatory & Management Authority (WRMA) for astringent on the ground regulation of the promulgated legislation and its proper implementation, is highly recommended. Such an authority would reinforce the existing water-based bodies including Indus River System Authority (IRSA), Water & Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Pakistan Commissionerate for Indus Water (PCIW), and Federal Flood Commission (FFC) to bring about much-improved results in managing the waters of the country efficiently.
In compliance with the legislation, when it comes to the structural measures; private corporates and entrepreneurs should highly be encouraged to invest in these projects through offering them attractive “Return on Investments(ROIs)”, subsidies in taxes, low interest rates, and easy terms of Reference (TORs) without surrendering Government’s role as a regulator, in packaged with Public Private Partnership Initiative (PPPI). This will not only lessen the burden on the Government’s shoulders rather it would stir the sense of ownership among the public ensuring the maximum success of the project in return. Make it a business and the businessmen know how to make businesses function and perform well.
Undoubtedly, information & technology (IT) has revolutionized all walks of our lives. Before concluding the discussion, it’s pertinent to touch here a little about the significance of modern day’s IT in revolutionizing the water management. Through the inclusion and proper employment of software and synchronized hardware for better gauging, handling, and management of discharge(s), flow rate(s), level(s), surface/groundwater-surface profile(s), database recording, various analysis, communication(s), training(s), Education, and awareness can bring about wonders beyond the borders. Hydrological Engineering Centre’s River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) is a software that is being used in the United States by the United States Corps of Engineers to perform one-dimensional steady flow, one and two-dimensional unsteady flow calculations, sediment transport/mobile bed computations, and water temperature/quality modeling as part of the overall water management in the country. Use of Geographic Information System (GIS) & Remote Sensing (RS) can put us thousand steps ahead in achieving a spectacular water management for the greater good of Pakistan.
Water Management is nothing less than a science so is hard to be summed up in a few paragraphs here, but this article can serve as a sincere and humble technical advice for our decision makers in formulating a long-term tangible solution against the potential water-crisis which is around the corner and for every one of us to understand its gravity.
It’s high time to act now!