Record rains in Islamabad (AlertNet)

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Record rains ease Islamabad’s water shortage

Source: Alertnet // Saleem Shaikh And Sughra Tunio

Islamabad is enjoying abundant water supplies for the first time in a dozen years after record winter rainfall. But experts warn that reforestation and better water management are needed in the long term for the Pakistani capital’s growing population.

Musarat Aftab is exhilarated that after years of water shortages she will no longer have to do without a piped water supply, now that the dam that supplies Islamabad is filling.

The 40-year-old beautician lives in a two-story house in Islamabad’s I-10 residential sector. Since 2006 she has paid at least 2,000 Pakistani rupees a month ($20) to a private firm to get water from a tanker, an amount that often increased to more than 3,000 rupees ($30) in the summer when water consumption is higher.

“If I get piped water this year this will save me 30,000-36,000 rupees,” (about $300-370), a smiling Aftab said.

After heavy winter rains, the 2 million residents of the capital and its suburbs are now set to again receive water from the rain-fed Rawal Dam outside the city. But since 2005 the reservoir has mostly been at less than half its capacity because of a sharp decline in rainfall in the catchment area, said Zafar Hussain, an engineer in the government’s irrigation department.

Islamabad needs 150 million gallons (682 million litres) of water per day, but the piped supply provides only 80 million gallons (360 million litres) or less, particularly when dam levels are low. This has led to a rise in the number of borehole wells drilled by households to supply their domestic water needs. But that rising demand has led groundwater levels to drop.



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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.