According to a new study cited by the media, Pakistan is losing out on 15 Million Acre Foot (MAF) of fresh water annually because the storage capacity in the existing dams is decreasing substantially coupled with a lack of new water resources. The water that is being allowed to run unchecked to the sea can be properly stored in at least two large dams.
Over the last few years, the dead level in Tarbela Dam, the world’s largest earth filled dam, has been steadily increasing. Currently, the level is at 1392 feet, an increase of 14 feet from 1378 feet in 2017.
When the Tarbela dam became functional in 1977, it had a storage capacity of over 1 crore lakh MAF but now it has whittled down to 70 lakh MAF and if this declining trend holds, it could lose its status of being one of the largest dams around.
The decline in water storage is impacting total production of crops on a national level, crops like cotton, maize, sugarcane and wheat are being impacted.
In 1967, the construction of the Tarbela Dam was financed by the World Bank. The dam is 485 feet high and 900 feet long. There are four tunnels 45 feet in diameter on the river’s left bank, and one of these is used for irrigation purposes while the other three are linked to the units that produce energy.
At Ghazi Brotha, a link canal from Tarbela connects the turbines which help produce electricity for the national grid. River Indus, is the only river that has a vast potential for larger dams according to water experts.