ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) Tuesday has revealed that 79% water sources of the functional Water Supply Schemes (WSS) in Northern and Central Punjab are unsafe for drinking purposes and microbiological contamination has been found in all water samples.
According to a report of technical survey for WSS, conducted by PCRWR throughout the country, the quality of water being supplied to the consumers through the distribution system indicates that 88% of the functional schemes supply unsafe water for drinking.
The WSS are providing piped water supply for drinking purposes to meet household needs and for other multiple uses to an enumerated population of 19.017 million persons on 2,408 surveyed water schemes.
Nearly 61% of the total population remains unserved by the water supply schemes.
More alarming situation is that 88% of the functional schemes are providing unsafe drinking water to the consumers.
On a provincial basis, the average water charges per scheme figure out to Rs64/month.
Talking to APP, Chairman PCRWR Dr Muhammad Aslam Tahir said that the lack of proper management, operation and maintenance of the water supply systems is one of the critical issues of the water supply schemes.
At present, the common problem encountered in the schemes is a complex of various institutional, financial and technological issues.
The survey manifests that awareness about the hazards of the unsafe drinking water and the importance of safe drinking water is totally negligible.
There appears no concept regarding the use of safe water for drinking purposes, prevailing in the general public and among the managers of water supply schemes, as well.
Most of the schemes have used GI pipe for the distribution system, the useful life of which is less than 20 years. It necessitates a program of rehabilitation coupled with redesigning of water supply schemes in the district.
Chairman PCRWR said water supply systems should be properly planned, constructed and maintained to minimise the pollution in the system. The water storages at the source and at the consumers' residences should be periodically cleaned, he added.
Water treatment and disinfection should be carried out before supplying it to the consumers. The focus on microbiological safety of water must be emphasized, he further said.
Chairman PCRWR said awareness about the importance of safe drinking water for healthy living should be created in the masses as well as in the staff associated with water supply schemes.
Moreover, measures are required to improve the scheme management including revenue collection to increase the income and make the schemes financially sustainable, he said.