Demand to go up 40% in five years : Experts warn of serious water issue in Colombo | Sunday Observer

Demand to go up 40% in five years : Experts warn of serious water issue in Colombo

The current requirement of fresh water in Colombo will increase by around 40-50 percent in the next five years due to the rising number of hotels, home stays and apartments in the city, warned engineers and experts in water management at a water forum organised by the Institute of Engineers of Sri Lanka (IESL) in Colombo last week.

According to water management experts, Colombo needs around 300,000 cubic metres of water per day, which experts predict will increase to around 330,000 cubic metres in 2020 and 360,000 cubic metres by 2040.

“There is a steady growth in the demand for water in the country due to the rise in population and industrial needs which requires efficient management of water resources through policy measures to overcome a major crisis in the near future,” engineers said.

National Water Supply and Drainage Board Deputy General Manager / Project Director (NRW) Greater Colombo Water and Waste Water Management, Eng. S. Abdul Rasheed said the current water distribution system in Colombo city which is over 100 years old needs to be replaced urgently to minimise waste and improve efficiency in water distribution.

“Currently there are two ongoing projects to replace pipelines in the city funded by the Asian Development Bank and implemented by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board. Pipelines with a diameter of 1,200mm will be laid from Ambatale to Elie House and from Gothotuwa to Colombo East, under the projects,” Rasheed said adding that pipelines of 1,000mm will be laid from Kotte to Wellawatte under another project to replace the old water lines.

Experts said the replacement of pipelines has to be done urgently as the current capacity of water supply to the city is not sufficient due to the diameter of the pipelines.

Laying of new lines is a cumbersome process which has to be carried out meticulously.

“We expect work on the projects to be completed by around 2022,” Rasheed said.

The Water Forum is held each year by IESL to mark the World Water Day on March 22.

The theme of this year’s World Water Day (WWD) ‘Leaving No one Behind’ goes hand in hand with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water for all by 2030 which means leaving no one behind.

However, according to statistics around 1.1 billion people still live without safe water which means that that one in every six people lacks access to safe drinking water.

As of 2006, one-third of all nations suffered from clean water scarcity, but Sub Saharan Africa was among the worst water-stressed regions with an estimated 300 million living in a water stressed environment.

President IESL Eng. Prof. T.M. Pallewatte said Sri Lanka’s history shows that there were well managed irrigation systems which helped manage water efficiently. However, today, the scarcity of safe water has become a major issue not only in Sri Lanka but also across the world which will turn out to be ‘water wars’ if not addressed speedily.

Ministry of City Planning Water Supply and Higher Education Technical Advisor Regional Centre for Sanitation, Eng. Ananda Jayaweera said the need for water has increased as the country’s population which was around eight million in the 1950s has grown by two and a half times today.

He said many are left behind in having access to safe water due to discrimination.

The poor differently-abled people, the displaced, women and children are the most vulnerable groups deprived of access to water.

“Our programs target the vulnerable sectors to reduce inequality in having access to water. The plantation sector, those living in hard to reach areas, those in difficult terrains and those who lack proper sanitation are the most affected by water scarcity,” he said.

Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development, Irrigation and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Director Water Resource Management Eng. Lalith de Alwis said the study on vulnerability assessment of climate change on water resources under the Sri Lanka Climate Change Secretariat has identified vulnerable areas in the country and the need to mitigate the impact of climate change on water resources in the area.

“We have noted that drought in the North Central and Northern parts and floods and landslides in the Southern areas need impact mitigation to minimise the adverse impact of climate change on water resources in the area.

A national water resource management secretariat should be set up to address climate change issues at a national level,” he said. 

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