Pakistan doesn’t have enough capacity to store water supplies from its rivers. Due to this, about 90% of water supplies from rivers goes to waste.
The Minister for Water Resources stated this alarming fact in front of the National Assembly yesterday. He told that the country can only store 10% of flowing river water annually. At this time, Pakistan can store just 14 Million Acre-Foot (MAF) of the flowing water.
The Minister, Syed Javed Ali Shah, identified the reasons behind the lack of storage capacity, which include:
- No new reservoirs,
- Sedimentation in the existing storage works, resulting in a reduction in capacity,
- Increasing population hence an increase in demand,
- Climate change.
On April 4th, Pakistan’s domestic water storage capacity stood at 0.018 MAF, after taking into account the storage levels at the three main reservoirs in the country, making it the lowest ever. Last year it was recorded at 0.506 MAF. To put these figures in their proper context, the minister mentioned that the average storage capacity was 1.421 MAF over the last five years.
The Indus River System Authority (IRSA) had warned about this in November last year. The authority had already predicted a 36% water shortage for the last Rabi season (Oct 2017 to March 2018).
New Water Storage Projects
In order to combat this issue, the Minister told the National Assembly that Pakistan has undertaken as many as 26 projects to store water supplies.
Once completed, the storage capacity of these projects will be 7.323277 MAF, with the Diamer-Bhasha dam capable of storing 6.4 MAF by itself. For Bhasha dam, about 31,695 acres of land out of the total 37,419 acres have already been acquired.
Talking about the timeline of the projects, the minister said;
- Two projects are expected to be completed in the current fiscal year.
- Thirteen will be completed in the next fiscal year.
- Six will be completed by 2020.
The rest will go beyond 2020. Current estimates say that the Diamer-Bhasha dam will be completed by 2025-26.