ISLAMABAD, Sep 14 (APP): The experts on Wednesday said the country needed rainwater harvesting solutions and technology to conserve rainwater like groundwater recharge well type cost-effective nature-based solutions to revive aquifers and mitigate the risk of urban flooding through the most modern technology available at the local level.
The Institute of Urbanism, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Pakistan Council for Research on Water Resources (PCRWR), and Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (HBS) organized a two-day media fellowship on Harvesting Rainwater for Urban Flood Management that comprised of field visits to various rainwater harvesting sites in the federal capital and Lahore.
Addressing the media, Chairman PCRWR Dr. Muhammad Ashraf said the water crisis was a serious issue in the country, and it was soaring in every urban city.
“The groundwater recharge solutions are the need of the entire country. Especially in the prevailing floods that occurred in an unprecedented fashion in Pakistan,” he said.
Dr Ashraf said Pakistan was facing environmental degradation as in one season it had dryness and in other there were floods.
“We have to increase water storage at every stage. We have to develop large, medium, and small dams as per requirement.”
The rainwater storage solutions like artificial lakes at housing societies or artificial recharge wells would help manage rainwater, he added.
“60% of agriculture use water is coming from groundwater resources. We will have to either reduce groundwater extraction or increase water table recharge,” he added.
Flash floods, he said, were not mitigated in the federal capital or other mega urban even in pre-encroachment scenarios of nullahs.
“Watershed management is imperative for flood and drought management whereas catchment area needed to be enhanced,” he said.
The artificial recharge well’s purpose was to intercept rainwater near the catchment area and inject it into the groundwater well. “It will help save water from evaporation, ponding, and pollution,” Dr Ashraf explained.
He informed that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) established 100 recharge wells and 20 monitoring stations from its own resources in the federal capital.
In his welcome remarks, Country Director Regional Representative for Central Asia IWMI, Dr Mohsin Hafeez said the IPCC Report highlighted heatwave rise, heavy precipitation in South Asia Region due to human-induced activities, and both natural phenomena occurred this year.
He added that the worst flood occurred combining riverine and hill torrents flood.
He said ill-planned housing societies, construction on river beds, and encroachments on water flows were causing mega-disasters.
“Climate Change has a major impact on water and there are nine of months drought and three months of rain but we have insufficient infrastructure as no dams have been constructed in the past 50 years.”
He mentioned that the water recharge level in the capital was 130-150 millimeters (mm) in 1990 which remained the same in 2021, but the rate of urbanization boom spiraled rapidly.
“4.5 mm water tabled improved at Kachnar Park artificial recharge well. We are implementing it on 100 sites in the capital in collaboration with CDA and PCRWR.”
Deputy Director General Sardar Khan Zimri said the recharge wells were proposed in building bye-laws to recharge groundwater by adopting the solution at household.
He informed that there were 62 recharge wells installed in the federal capital and out of which 8 to 10 failed due to more groundwater levels at the sites, whereas 50 of them were operational.
The media persons also visited the sites of recharge wells installed at PCRWR and Kachnar Park.
The IWMI Country Director told the media that I-8 Kachnar Park recharges well possessed most modern technology which was implemented after hydrological modeling of Islamabad in which seven potential sites for groundwater recharge were identified.
A PCRWR official briefed the journalists that the Kachnar Park recharge well as the only site fully instrumented where a water gauge was installed along with automatic data drivers that monitor water inflow and temperature shift.
He informed that from May to September, 78mm of rainfall was recorded in the capital, and 1.9 million gallons of rainwater was conserved on this site.
During the second day’s visit, the media delegation visited various rainwater harvesting sites in Lahore that were the first of its kind facilities to store rainwater causing flooding on the thoroughfares of Lahore that were later used for watering greenbelt plantations across the city.
The first site was at Bagh-e-Jinnah along Lawrence Road where a 1.4 million gallons capacity underground water storage capacity was established at a cost of Rs140 million. The site comprised a catchment area of 30 acres and a ponding area of three acres.
The Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) Lahore developed under the vision that helped end the stagnation of water in this area during 100mm rainfall.
The water tank had two water pumps of six cusecs to pump water to the other site in case of above 100 mm rainfall and storage capacity reaching its full volume.
There were also two more underground water tanks underway at Sheranwala Gate and Alhamra Arts Council whereas the latter was near completion.
The underground water tanks had huge social benefits including flood-free routes and connectivity during heavy rains and mitigated the risk of urban flooding, whereas it gave an additional source of water to increase green cover in the city.