WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE … BUT NOT A DROP TO DRINK (“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

(Long Article)

Samaa recently wrote https://www.samaa.tv/news/2020/08/karachi-rain-water-weather-flooding-monsoon-update-storage-shortage-drought/, with very good suggestions for capturing rain water- which reminded me of my post of last year (https://dinshawavari.wordpress.com/2019/03/25/water-water-everywhere-but-not-a-drop-to-drink/).  This is an apt time to re-summarize and add on to these thoughts-

Weather patterns have changed for Pakistan, especially Karachi.  We are seeing colder winters, hotter summers … and heavier rains!  The last I remember of these types of rains were in the 1970s.

Karachi is facing severe monsoon rains for the first time in decades.  It’s a good thing too – it cleans up the city; there is more greenery; the temperature drops; and life is so much more pleasant; and the three major reservoirs supplying water to our City get filled.

Yet, with the rains upon us there is no drinking water in sight!  Like South Africa’s current problem, Pakistan is heading for a water crisis in the coming decade.

Rain is God’s gift to Earth and we are rebuffing this free resource!

The time to act is NOW … with no POLITICS or partisanship involved, through micro & macro means.  The provincial & federal governments cannot do this on their own- we as citizens have to help out too.

  1. Let’s go back to school – literally – and immediately start teaching water saving to all nursery, kindergarten and primary school children! (Long Term Goal)
  2. Water faucets can and should be changed to modern fittings which save water.  I saw a very interesting concept at https://www.alteredcompany.com/ .  Their water aerators/nozzles give a mist giving the same cleaning effects but at a fraction of the water wastage.  Why can’t our domestic companies follow suit and make it mandatory for all faucets to be of this type?
  3. Implement recycling “domestic” water for kitchen & clothes washing and swimming pool top ups;
  4. Implement “waste” water recycling (from WC’s and urinals) for gardens and exterior washings (can be used for washing cars, external patios, etc). 
  5. Implement drip irrigation for all gardens, plants & farms –Middle Eastern countries are proof that such systems work – and theoretically it should be even easier for us to do! 
  6. All watering for gardens & plants should be done at/after sunset;
  7. Domestic staff HAVE to be taught to conserve water (for that matter all our utilities);
  8. Individual water catchment systems need to be created – each building in our cities can easily have their own rainwater harvesting system – it doesn’t have to be expensive.  In our part of the world, Tamil Nadu leads the way!  Brazil, Singapore, Hawaii & Australia are other successful examples.  The cost and process of making a catchment system is not prohibitive or unreasonable.  It can even work effectively with a simple tarpaulin (refer http://www.oas.org/usde/publications/unit/oea59e/ch10.htm as an example).  (Here’s another source- https://outdoortroop.com/how-to-capture-and-store-enough-rainwater-for-your-cabin/).

On the macro side, our federal & provincial governments –

  1. Have to put aside “-1 sum” politics (in this case “-1” referring to provinces) in favour of the citizens of Pakistan.
  2. Like Hawaii, we need to create water catchment areas for rainwater in each province – NO RAIN WATER SHOULD BE WASTED.
  3. Mini DAMS is a must – starting from the north of Pakistan’s main rivers down south to the Arabian Sea – so that our fresh water does not drain into the sea and is instead used productively.  Politicians (not us citizens!) have concerns that water from such dams would not be used equitably – but if Pakistan & India’s Indus Water Treaty of 1960 can withstand the “test of time”, I’m sure our own provinces can also reach comprehensive, equitable & binding agreements.

Not a drop of fresh water in Pakistan should be allowed to flow into the Arabian Sea and instead equitably diverted East & West to all provinces as it flows southwards!

  • The current government’s tree-plantation drive is a correct first step – “growing trees take water from the soil and release it into the atmosphere. Tree leaves also act as interceptors, catching falling rain, which then evaporates causing rain precipitation elsewhere — a process known as evapo-transpiration […] strategically planting trees can bring rain to regions that need it most.” (https://forestsnews.cifor.org/10316/make-it-rain-planting-forests-to-help-drought-stricken-regions?fnl=en). 
  • Desalinization plants – this is a macro project and while some smaller units have been set up in Karachi, they are not being used.  Besides rainwater, ocean water is an absolutely FREE resource- why are we not using it?  We take loans to pay off other loans … and loans for building our arms … why can’t we take loans & grants for providing drinking water to our population?

There is a great need for our governments (plural!) collectively to lead the way in collecting & storing rainwater; promoting households & commercial buildings to create water catchments & reuse rainwater; and teach & implement water saving techniques to the population!

THE WATER IS FREE people … we just need to optimally capture this very very scarce resource and utilize it correctly in & for our Country.