Water: Multi-Dimensional Value

Shankar Man Singh

The World Water Day that falls on March 22 every year highlights the importance of water, raises awareness about the global water crisis and encourages the concerned bodies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The theme of World Water Day 2021 was “Valuing Water”. The value of water is more than its real value- water has great and complex value for our family, food, culture, health, education, economics, and the integrity of our natural environment. If we ignore any of these standards, we run the risk of misusing this limited, irreversible resource.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to ensure “water and sanitation for all.” Without a detailed understanding of the real, multi-dimensional value of water, we would be incapable of protecting this vital resource for the benefit of all.

Water is one of the five largest markets in the world. It is estimated that 350 billion dollars are spent annually on water production and distribution for human consumption, industry, and agriculture.
As water demand increases and resources shrink, new technology is needed to increase supply. According to global estimates, more than 75 billion dollars will be invested in infrastructure and technology solutions to meet the challenges of growing water demand this year.

Water is the most common substance on the earth, but 97 per cent of total water is seawater, which is considered unfit for human consumption. Only one per cent of the world’s water is available for human consumption. Water is important: life cannot exist without it. But one per cent of the earth’s available water should be enough for everyone.

Water Supply

The drinking water and sanitation sector in Nepal is dynamic. Since the new constitution came into force in 2015, Nepal is now one of the few countries in the world where citizens have access to safe water and sanitation services and the right to live in a healthy and clean environment. The constitution anticipates the state should expand water and sewerage services based on the state’s capacity and maximise water resources.
A misconception about the right to water and sanitation is people think that they have the right to free use of water. Access to clean drinking water should be carried out affordably. Individuals are expected to make some financial contributions to the extent they use water.

Uganda has an abundant source of water, including rivers, natural wells and waterfalls, lakes, and rivers. In 1971, in Uganda, water was declared a gift from God and made available to consumers free of charge. But in 1984, the government changed its policy and established a tariff system. The water charge system was based on the following principles:
Water supply is good so prices should be set to encourage consumers to conserve, water utilities should be financially self-sufficient, prices should ensure social equality. The fee system should be easy to understand and administer, and the fee should be different for different categories of users.
Commercial users pay three times as much per cubic meter as people who get public water. The argument is that water used for commercial and industrial purposes is an “input” or raw material for business activities and generates profits from it. The fee also reflects the different levels and costs of providing the services.
Inspired by the need to reform the region, the Government of Nepal continues to provide “political will” and leadership to improve governance, accountability, and accountability. Its purpose is to ensure safe, adequate, accessible, acceptable, and affordable supplies.

Water and sanitation services are necessary and essential to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030 in line with the government’s sector objectives and in line with the SDGs.
Nepal has made significant progress over the past two decades in providing access to basic drinking water and sanitation services. The National Water Policy (2005) set a basic coverage target for all citizens by 2017, with 27 per cent of the population having access to medium- or high-quality drinking water supply services.

According to the government’s 14th plan, 84 per cent of the population has access to water, which is 46 per cent more than in 1990. Most of these are at the basic level of subsistence. It’s over. The National Water Policy (2005) set a basic coverage target for all citizens by 2017, with 27 per cent of the population having access to medium- or high-quality drinking water supply services.

Learning From Project

Former Prime Minister of Nepal Krishna Prasad Bhattarai had said that he would bring such a large amount of water from Melamchi River to Kathmandu in five years that it would be enough to clean the roads of Kathmandu. Bhattarai had given water election slogans to Melamchi in the elections of 2048 BS, 2051 BS, and 2056 BS. However, he failed to understand the process of bringing water from Melamchi to Kathmandu. Otherwise, he would not have said that the project would be completed in five years.

Kathmandu is the capital city and a “melting pot” for the people of all districts. The population density in Kathmandu is increasing day by day. In the 1970s, water problems began to appear in Kathmandu. Drinking-Water and Sewerage Management Committee was formed to ensure fair distribution of water. After studying the water situation in Kathmandu, the committee suggested finding alternative water to solve the water problem in Kathmandu.

In 1988, a British company was tasked with identifying alternative water sources. Of the many options such as pumping river water, the company chooses the Melamchi option as the best option. A feasibility study and survey of the Melamchi project was completed in 1988. In the same year, Melamchi Drinking Water Development Committee was formed. Two years later, the Melamchi project came off the field.

There is not enough water from Melamchi to quench the thirst of Kathmanduites. However, it does contribute to the problem of water. The government is in the pipeline for the next phase of the project: bringing water to Kathmandu from the Larke and Yangri rivers. There will be a joint supply of water from these two rivers. Upon completion of this phase, Kathmandu will receive water from Sindhupalchok, which will solve Kathmandu’s water problem.
Residents of the Kathmandu Valley have come close to their long-cherished dream of quenching their thirst for water from the Melamchi River in Sindhupalchowk, as water has recently reached Sundarijal in the valley to supply water from a long tunnel. Prime Minister KP Oli inaugurated the Melamchi water by pressing the switch in the middle of a special program organized at Sundarijal on the Bagmati River. Addressing the function, Prime Minister Oli said that everyone living in the Kathmandu Valley was happy.

Water For Households

The Melamchi Drinking Water Project decided to release water into the Bagmati River for the first time. The Kathmandu Valley households are expected to get drinking water supplied by the Melamchi Drinking Water Project by mid-April.

The drinking water scheme from Melamchi is expected to be available in Kathmandu Valley soon. Both Sundarijal water treatment plants and distribution pipes also need to be tested. The people of Kathmandu Valley are likely to have access to Melamchi drinking water from April. The Melamchi Drinking Water Project can bring 51 million litres of water to the Kathmandu Valley daily.

The challenge here is to have a 24-hour, seven-day piped water supply of 100 LPCD that meets national drinking water standards and is also regulated by smart water management equipment and technology.

The physical work of the headbox has been completed, while some of the connected hydro-mechanical equipment, automation equipment, and electrification equipment can be taken from abroad. As soon as the equipment arrives, all the work on the headbox will end with the connection work. Work is also working to link the ‘Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)’ system to the headbox. As soon as the test of the tunnel is completed, the work of the headbox will be completed and the water of Melamchi will be diverted from the head-box to the tunnel permanently.

The water of Melamchi will be muddy only during the rainy season for a month and a half, but since the water is clean, there is no problem with unclean water.

(Singh is former CEO of NEPSE)

The Rising Nepal

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