Waste of precious water

The Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) has been dangling the carrot of big projects to users of its services such as the Sayeedabad water treatment plant using the water of the river Sitalakhya that would substantially increase water supply. But the project's future was threatened several times as the World Bank suspended fund for its construction because WASA had failed to carry out the pledged reformatory actions. There are also other such projects but their fastest implementation-which is a very pressing need-has been put on hold by the typical lackadaisical ways and corruption at WASA that led to its failure in meeting conditionalities for getting funds.

Meanwhile, pending implementation of the big projects, WASA could do quite a lot itself in notably increasing water supply if it only enforced some measures on regular basis to stop misuse and waste of water. None can miss the cruel sights of WASA-installed roadside taps without control valves draining uselessly thousands of gallons of water when many rate-payers of WASA lead miserable lives due to water scarcity or non-availability of water in their homes.

The utility body's managers point to theft of valves from roadside taps and other mischief. But is that any excuse for everyday wasting of such vast amounts of precious water? Surely such petty thefts of valves of roadside taps can be stopped with some sincere inspection and even local community action. But the sincerity in this regard is not noted. Then, there are the leaks in the pipes of WASA's underground pipes. The repairing of these leaks by WASA's own resources on emergency basis is quite a feasible task. WASA presently supplies water which is about 400 million litres short of need. It can, however, increase this supply by 170 million litres through only taking steps to prevent loss. It only has to repair leaks in the lines and control other forms of waste. Therefore, all concerned would be expecting WASA authorities to immediately go for an action programme to stop this loss or waste of water.

WASA's big future plans all involve the use of surface water because tapping of underground water is proving to be costlier and also risky because of the fast depleting reservoirs of underground water from excessive lifting. But the main sources of surface water-the rivers-are getting too polluted and already it requires special chemicals to purify such polluted water. The day is not far off when even the special chemicals will not sufficiently purify such polluted water of rivers. Thus, measures will have to be taken on emergency basis from now on to stop the pollution of the rivers and to restore the purity of their water by severely regulating and stopping the draining of pollutants into the rivers.

Source: The New Nation, 29 October, 2001