ISLAMABAD: The quality of water in one of Pakistan’s biggest natural lakes known as Manchar is found highly contaminated and unfit for drinking, according to Environmental Assessment of Manchar Lake 2017.
The study was conducted by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) in collaboration with US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W) and Mehran University of Engineering and Technology in Jamshoro to evaluate the current water quality status of the lake and its impact on ecosystem.
The report calls for an urgent need for taking measures to impose ban on throwing wastewater into the lake and for monitoring it on regular and long-term basis.
Manchar is a beautiful shallow lake located in district Jamshoro, Sindh. It is famous for its flora and fauna and is a major resource in an arid region. The lake’s degradation started with the construction of Main Nara Valley (MNV) drain in 1921, after which the lake got contaminated.
A copy of the report available with The Express Tribune reveals that quality of water in the lake is highly contaminated due to the disposal of municipal waste.
“The presence of Total Coliform and E.Coli reflects disposal of municipal waste into the lake,” says the report, adding that no serious issue of heavy metals was found in the water of the lake, but only mercury (Hg) was found in higher than the threshold.
It warns about the presence of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the water which can cause death and illness, including disturbance of the endocrine, reproductive and immune systems, neuro behavioral disorders and even cancer.
The report states that due to lack of management, decades of draining untreated agricultural and industrial effluent has converted the fresh water reservoir into a pool of toxins, contaminating the water and destroying the natural aquatic flora and fauna as well as migratory birds.
“The lake was once harbor for Siberian migratory birds, but now the numbers have fallen from 25,000 birds counted in 1988 to just 2,800 birds counted in 2002,” says the report.
Earlier, the PCRWR carried out a study on Manchar Lake in 1996-97 and after examining the water samples collected on monthly basis, it concluded that its water was safe and fit for drinking.
However, from January 1997, the contamination increased, chemical parameters were high, whereas coliforms were also present in water samples making it unfit for drinking.
According to an official privy to this report, one of the most beautiful lakes has lost its charm and purpose mainly due to the ignorance of the government and concerned departments. The official says if the lake is maintained properly, it can contribute a lot to boosting up tourism industry.