The apex development body of the garrison city has started a study on the possibility to build an inflatable rubber dam on the Soan River to raise the groundwater level.
The proposed dam will support the ecosystem and the fauna and flora in the Potohar region that is facing drying out of rivers and seasonal streams.
Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and the Punjab Irrigation Department will conduct the study for the inflatable rubber dam.
Inflatable rubber dams are cylindrical rubber fabrics placed across water channels to raise the upstream water level when inflated. The fabric is quite flexible and yet exhibits good wear-resistance characteristics. A layer of stainless steel mesh or ceramic chips can be embedded in the surface layer to reduce or prevent vandal damage.
Under the proposed project, mini dams will be constructed at various places on the Soan River which will be used to store water. This stored water can also be used to irrigate nearby crop fields.
A large amount of water from the Soan River is dissipated every day. It has now been decided to use this water by storing it. Water will be stored in mini dams and ponds at different locations along the river which will also attract aquatic birds.
The project will also raise the decreasing water level in Rawalpindi. These check dams will also protect government lands along the Soan River from occupation groups.
Rawalpindi Commissioner Muhammad Mehmood, while presiding over a recent meeting, had ordered the officials concerned to develop a feasibility report on the construction of an inflatable rubber dam on Soan River to improve the declining underground water table of the city.
He further directed officials of RDA to finalise the terms and conditions for the feasibility report.
After conducting a survey, the experts in the field will evaluate the project cost and the practicable suggestions posed by feasibility report. A rubber inflatable dam is a low-cost solution that does not require any sizeable concrete structures. Not to mention that during urban flooding, these dams are removed from the water barrier to let it flow in its usual flowing pattern.
It was highlighted that the inflatable dams obstruct the water from one to two meters and by constructing this dam on Soan River urban part, the flow of the water can be controlled and slowed, which can assist in improving underground water tables.
Commissioner also stated that the feasibility report will also determine the location and number of inflatable rubber dams and through them, increase the life span of underground water tube wells. The commissioner was also informed that the World Bank (WB) had also conducted a study on the inflatable rubber dams’ construction of Rivers Ravi and Sutlej.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2020.