Islamabad’s Groundwater Problem is About to Get Worse

The alarming rate at which groundwater in Islamabad is depleting has raised concerns. This is due to the increased demand for water, which has resulted in excessive pumping by both residents and commercial users.

According to official figures provided by the civic agency, groundwater levels have decreased fivefold in the past five years. A decrease of 6 feet was recorded in 2013, while in 2014, this estimate increased to 10 feet. The rate of depletion has been even more significant in subsequent years, with drops of 16 feet, 23 feet, and 30 feet up to 2017. Unfortunately, this trend has continued in recent years.

The situation is particularly grave in areas beyond Sector G-11 in Islamabad, where groundwater is limited to a few pockets and is also rapidly depleting due to continuous pumping from aquifers. According to Azhar Javed, a conservationist, this occurs when the rate of water extraction from the ground exceeds the rate of replenishment.

With the highest population growth rate in the country, Islamabad has experienced a surge in construction activities. The twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad currently have 9,170 public and private tube wells and boreholes. However, this number is suspected to be an underestimate, considering the prevalence of illegal wells and bores.

Unfortunately, with only three dams available for water supply – Rawal, Khanpur, and Simli – and the continued expansion of private housing societies, there is no easy solution to the twin cities’ water crisis.

Proposals have been made to build small dams near the Margallah hills in Islamabad. However, an official has stated that no suitable sites for such dams are currently available. In 2005, the civic agency reviewed a proposal to construct six small dams, but technical issues prevented the project from being approved. The challenge of water scarcity remains a significant issue for the city, and immediate action is necessary to resolve it.

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