Quake, dry spell worsen Valley’s water woesA long dry spell, on top of the impact of last year’s earthquakes on groundwater, is feared to worsen the already acute water crisis in Kathmandu Valley in the next four months starting March.
A long dry spell, on top of the impact of last year’s earthquakes on groundwater, is feared to worsen the already acute water crisis in Kathmandu Valley in the next four months starting March.
Last summer saw a weak monsoon that did not bring rain enough to recharge the depleting groundwater. The April 25 earthquake caused minor to major damages to some sources under a dozen deep tube wells. This has already hit thousands of households that are dependent on wells as they have no access to piped water. “The earthquake damaged our well and we constructed a new one. But the drought this year left our new well dry too. We depend on tankers for water,” said Khem Khanal, a local from Lokanthali, Bhaktapur, adding that he had to buy three tankers of water in the past month.
Even those connected with the pipeline are facing water shortages. Prolonged power outages have affected around 200,000 households that are supplied by the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited as they often have no power to pump water when the KUKL releases it.
“Many places in the Valley get piped water once in five days while some get it every 12 days. This is expected to worsen in the coming days,” said Tilak Mohan Bhandari, a manager at the KUKL.
Between mid-March and mid-June, the availability of water in Kathmandu drops to one fourth to the supply in the wet season, which is 176 million litres per day before leakage. “This March, water supply has fallen by 6-7 million litres per day (mld) compared to the same period last year,” said Mahesh Prasad Bhattarai, general manager at the KUKL.
The current demand for water is around 375mld while the supply is hardly 175mld in the rainy season and around 73mld during the dry season.
Soon after the earthquake, water supply in Patan was disrupted for weeks. Out of the around 70 tube wells, more than 10 were damaged. KUKL officials said they are studying the impact of the earthquakes on the water supply system in the Valley.
Over the years, the change in land use policy, rise in population and urbanisation, lack of repair and maintenance of traditional water supply systems and the delay in implementation of measures for improving the distribution system have compounded the problem.
The KUKL receives a daily demand for 150 tankers that carry between 6000 to 12,000 litres of water but the utility makes only about 100 deliveries due to an inadequate number of tankers and the lack of enough sources of water, said Surendra Himalaya, chief of the tanker branch at the public utility. There are more than 200 private suppliers in the Valley.