Rain Water Harvesting

By Muhammad Ali-FCCA, ACA England and Wales

Pakistan has one of the largest man-made canal systems in the world which is facilitating around 48 million acres across the country. Today, Pakistan has 150 dams out of which 15 are large dams, 135 small dams, 19 barrages, 12 interlink canals, 45 canals, and more than 1.3 million tube wells to meet its commercial, domestic, and irrigational needs. The purpose of interlinking canal systems was to ensure that water shifted from the first to the last. This methodology helps a lot to save Pakistan from drought. The pre-partition of perennial canals irrigated 36.16% of Punjab and the post-partition of these perennial canals after enhancing capacity to 84.84% irrigating cultivatable land.

Despite the world’s number one canal system, the water disaster worsened during the recent monsoon rains. We Muslims have a firm belief that the rains are blessings of Allah which needs to invent ways for this blessing rather than wait for conversion into a curse.

Our major dams and the planned irrigation system are based on the assumption that during the summer, the snow and glacial resources of the Himalayan region are used to refill the dams. When the water level reaches the lowest level the monsoon rains started. Luckily we have a natural reservoir of fresh water i.e. the great Himalayan 15,000 glaciers which store about 12,000 km3 (2,900 cu mi) of fresh water. Out of these in Gilgit Baltistan, there are some 7000 glaciers.

To mitigate human life losses Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) device the mechanism for storing Rainwater.  Currently as a pilot project with the 26000 square k.m. in the desert of Cholistan 110 reservoirs with 440 million gallons of storage capacity based on rainwater. Due to rainwater storage techniques, the water is available here throughout the year and significantly mitigates the migration and saves annually 5-6 billion rupees on this migration.

This underground water goes deeper and deeper as time passes. Regardless of the fact all governments were either selected or elected none of them seemed sincere in preparing a detailed long-run plan to save the motherland from these water disasters. Temporally, groundwater levels are decreasing in districts Lahore, Kasur, and Narowal while increasing in Sialkot, Gujranwala, and Sheikhupura.

According to a World Bank report from 2021, the number of reported tube wells increased from approximately 98,000 in 1970 to more than 1.3 million in 2017. 80% of this underground water is used for agricultural purposes.  The report estimates that groundwater is being psyched faster than it can be restocked naturally through downpours or surface runoff.

Let’s have a look at India which stands amongst the countries most water-stressed in the world today. 28% of the country is drought-prone and 54% of groundwater is declining faster than it is being regenerated. Rain harvesting programs and their capacity in India help to save 1.23 billion rupees.*2

Kenya a country in the Continent of Africa has a track record history for using rainwater after passing the law in 2016 “The Water Act” where rainwater is used in public toilets, laundries, and irrigations.

There is a need to raise awareness at the national level about water harvesting and its methodology. The government should immediately take the necessary steps for the installation of rain harvesting pipes and pits over all the state-owned premises at the first step and then through statute on all the buildings which are under construction. All areas of the cities where the water level increases during the rainfalls must be highlighted and take necessary steps for its harvesting either at the same points or to take the water at other reservoirs from where it could be included through pipes/deep drillings into natural water streams. For this purpose we already have well established fiber glass pipe industry in Pakistan.

This step will raise the underground water levels. Rainwater catchments can reduce the temperature of buildings up to 1.3 degree Celsius.

Deep drainage or deep percolation is a hydrologic process, where water moves downward from surface water to groundwater to recharge the water level.

1: https://www.un-igrac.org/what-groundwater

2: https://cere-india.org/rainwater-harvesting