There are a great many reasons behind the depleting water resources in Pakistan; however, the one that is often ignored is unnecessary pumping of underground water. The problem of water scarcity in our country has gained momentum over the past several years. The underground water table has fallen into a danger zone but, unfortunately, the concerned authorities seem to be indifferent and unconcerned over this hazard-in-waiting. Even more appalling is the lack of will at the government level regarding the construction of small or big dams for water conservation. There are no proper arrangements to conserve the rainwater and likewise, the concept of water recycling or re-using the treated wastewater for beneficial purposes such as agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, toilet flushing, etc. has been solely lacking. Leakage of pipes is a common problem at our houses, streets, etc.
Since we are mercilessly wasting our already scarce water resources, God forbid, we will soon be at a point where water and blood will have the same value – with some alteration on a lighter note ‘water will be thicker than blood’. So, it is high time the concerned authorities woke up from a deep slumber and took necessary measures to overcome this horrible water shortage in the country.
To make people develop a habit of conserving water, establishing a sanitary police/squad for monitoring and measurement of water-carrying lines by installing water metres, training workers and building the capacity of institutions (personnel, laboratories, technologies and finances – the wherewithal) is of critical importance. Curbing unnecessary washing of both raw material and equipment, simply turning off the water when machines are not operating, reusing water for other processes such as cooling, cleaning, etc. an increased investment in existing water quality systems and research to improve water treatment methods can help in reducing the cost of treatment, and increasing the reliability of existing methods. Water quality rules and regulations should be enforced in order to prevent the discharge of untreated effluents from industrial units and municipalities into rivers and nullahs. The appropriate solid waste management system should be introduced so as to prevent the dumping of solid waste into water bodies and leachate generation. Proper sanitary landfill sites should be constructed and the open dumping of human and animal waste should be prohibited. A sustainable pollution control strategy should be devised in order to reduce wastewater volumes. This approach may include segregation of wastewater streams, process modification techniques and recycling and reuse of wastewater. Epidemiological studies should be conducted in areas close to contaminated water bodies in order to assess the effects of polluted water on the health of the populace. Mass awareness campaigns (on electronic, print and social media) on the importance of water quality should also be launched. Media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can play a vital role in this regard. An integrated water resource management approach should be adopted by involving all stakeholders for the protection of water quality. The linkage between research and development, too, needs to be strengthened.