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On March 22, 2011, Pakistan and the international community will be observing World Water Day. This year’s theme, ‘Water for Cities’, is well-timed given that industry and scientific experts concur that by 2035 Pakistan will be a water scarce country.

A far more immediate problem is the poor quality of water available for drinking purposes which results in nearly three million fatalities annually. In Pakistan, drinking water supplies are sourced from rivers, canals, lakes and underground water aquifers.

The quality of this water is suspect because of poor municipal and sewerage management, the dumping of untreated effluents and inadequate water treatment facilities. Surveys and water quality studies conducted by organisations such as WHO, the Pakistan Council for Research on Water Resources, and WWF Pakistan (among others), indicate that our water supplies contain different concentrations of arsenic, pesticides and nitrates among other chemicals that are dangerous to human health. These tests have been conducted across the country andPakistan’s urban water supply fails to comply with the WHO drinking water quality guidelines.

As a responsible citizen and member of the community you can take steps to promote safe and efficient water use by:

  1. Ensuring that all drinking water in the household is boiled.
  1. Educating others about effective and cheap water purification and storage methods.
  1. Avoiding the use of bottled water as it is environmentally unfriendly, expensive, creates a mindset of apathy and reduces the pressure on the government to improve water management and provisioning services.
  1. Being more efficient when using water by making sure that taps are turned off, prevent drips and leakages, and reusing kitchen wastewater for gardening, etc.

— K. Zaheer

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 20, 2011.