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.

A future “Malir River-Basin Dam”?

(Photo credit- https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Malir-River-Basin-MRB_fig1_325475799)

August 12, 2019

Last week I had written about recycling & harvesting rain water (https://dinshawavari.com/2019/08/08/and-the-rains-are-upon-us/).  Then we faced rains in Karachi which I have not seen in decades.  The “natural” effect of this was the massive misinformation & incorrect (some genuinely mistaken) social media warnings & alerts on the effects of the rains in Karachi. 

One post in particular, on the flooding of Malir River, got me thinking.  At the outset, let me clarify that these are my personal views and I hope it doesn’t lead to controversy …

               Water flowing down Sindh province makes its way into Malir River, which generally lays dry through the year.  It’s only when we have sudden rains or this current set of rains when it fills up, and in the latter case, overflowed too.

               The major sources of Karachi’s water are the Hub dam, Keenjhar lake & Haleji lake.

Why don’t we “DAM” up the Malir River Basin within Karachi’s limits?  Why let the precious rain water go to waste, into the Arabian Sea?  If Karachi is seeing its own effects of climate change and our soothsayers predict more of this to come, let’s channelize that water into a massive & natural reservoir down Malir River.  A dam in the middle of the City will also become its own, inbuilt tourist attraction (just like Nasser Dam is in Egypt).  It’s just a matter of finessing this future dam as the main structural setup is already in place.

There will NOT be any negative environmental effects – in fact it will save water; be a positive social change for the people of Karachi through tourism; it will control the environmental pollutants currently flowing into the Malir River. There will be other benefits!

Do you water experts out there agree to this- or a variation of this idea?

(Photo credit- Samaa TV)

Water, water everywhere … but not a drop to drink!

March 24, 2019

water water everywhere

Recently there has been a lot of news about South Africa (Cape Town actually) running out of water soon.

I believe Pakistan – and Karachi especially – is almost in the same boat- international organizations have repeatedly been warning us about the impending water shortage, as soon as the coming decade.

There are many many articles on water saving but the government cannot do this on its own- we as citizens have to help out too.

Some basic water saving techniques which can PRACTICALLY be instituted are –

  1. Like Hawaii, the government should create water catchment areas for rain water – especially in Punjab and KP provinces;
  2. Water faucets can and should be changed to modern fittings/devices which save water. I saw a very very interesting concept at https://www.alteredcompany.com/ . Their water aerators/nozzles give a mist – they claim 98% water saving – giving you the same cleaning effects but at a fraction of the water wastage.
  3. Implement recycling “domestic” water for kitchen & clothes washing and things like swimming pools;
  4. Implement “Waste” water (from WC’s and urinals) recycling for gardens and exterior washings (can be used for washing cars, external patios, etc). Admiral Khawar showed us a fantastic recycling concept the Navy has started at Karsaz – I don’t see why can’t implement the same too;
  5. Mini DAMS is a must – starting from the north of Pakistan’s main rivers to as far south as possible, so that our fresh water does not drain into the sea and is instead used productively.  Some provinces 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 a comprehensive, equitable & binding agreement;
  6. Implement drip irrigation for all our gardens and plants – if the Middle East countries can successfully operate such systems, it should be even easier for us to do!
  7. Tied to this, all water for gardening should be done after sunset;
  8. Domestic staff HAVE to be taught to conserve water (for that matter all our utilities);
  9. Let’s go back to school – literally – and immediately start teaching water saving to all nursery, kindergarten and primary school children!

What are your thoughts- how else can we PRACTICALLY help ourselves and how can the Government help us?

(Title courtesy “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge ; Photo courtesy of “Quotesbuddy.com”)