Poor Quality of Drinking water, an alarming threat: Present Challenges and Future Perspectives

Water, water, water, this is the most horrible cry of the present era. Day by day increase in environmental temperature has rung the ever day increasing demand for drinking water. However, our so called modernization such as urbanization, sky touching industries and the most important, rapid population growth has consigned gigantic stress on fresh water resources. Water, being the key of life, plays an important role for proper growth and development of living beings. However, before drinking every glass of water, we are compelled to think now that “is it safe for drinking purposes?”. Unfortunately, in most of cases, our answer is “No”. As, today our drinking water is full of physical, chemical and biological contaminants. Entry of microorganisms and hazardous chemicals, being major component of domestic and industrial sector, is the major cause of generation of poor quality drinking water. Mixing of human and animal fecal material provide the entry to the E-Coli bacteria in our drinking water. During the rainy seasons, E-Coli bacteria accelerates its population growth and ultimately, our rivers, streams, canals and lakes become an intimate habitat of these toxic bacteria that raise the human health problems. Moreover, even in big cities of Pakistan, drinking water sanitation system and drainage pipelines run side by side. Therefore, any leakage or destruction in one system leads the intermingling of drinking water and drainage water and thus, water quality deterioration comes forward in horrible from.

According to the latest survey, ground water acts as a major source of drinking water in Pakistan. But this ground water is the storehouse of unlimited pathogens such as bacteria, virus and various protozoans that are responsible for 2.5 million deaths each year due to breakthrough of diarrheal disease. A recent health report declares that almost 50% diseases and therefore, 40% deaths in Pakistan occur due to drinking of poor quality water. A basic criterion of safe drinking water is “It should be colorless and free from odor, microbes and turbidity”. Moreover, drinking water should be esthetically pleasant and worth drinking. Various methods such as chlorination are commonly used for the disinfection of the drinking water.

Less rain, high temperature, prevailing drought and the most cursing, non-development of other water resources are the major factors for lowering the availability of fresh water. According to a report, presented by Pakistan National Conservation Strategy, current water supply in Pakistan has become 79% and is still on reduction track. Under such despondent conditions, common people are compelled to fulfill even their drinking water needs with the use of poor quality water. However, this unpleasant and poor quality drinking water poses countless health risks to the public community. It is well documented that provision of contaminated drinking water is the major reason of almost 5 million children deaths. In Health Care Units of Rawalpindi almost 80,000 patients are reported having water borne diseases while according to United Nation International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 20 to 40% hospitals of whole Pakistan are also indulged with water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis, giardiasis, and cryptosporidiosis and guinea worm infections are about 80% (including diseases due to sanitation problem) of all diseases and are responsible for 33% of deaths. Moreover, most common water borne disease, “Diarrhea” has being reported as a major cause of children and infants death, in the under-developed and developing countries including Pakistan. As, from the total Pakistan population, only 25% is using safe drinking water, every 5th citizen is suffering from many fatal diseases due to drinking of polluted water.

Under the light of above described facts and figures, it is the dire need of hour to adopt some supportive management strategies to lower down the harms and hazards of poor quality drinking water. First of all, water and sanitation agency should focus the quality of water as well as quantity of water. Awareness, maintenance and monitoring of drinking water resources should give the prior importance. Moreover, strict legislation for safe drinking water supply should design. Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) should take action with the help of private institutions to protect water resources and controlling pollution from its source. A great attention by government agencies is also required regarding the surety of drinking water treatment plants working and provision of standard, fit drinking water in all over the Pakistan. Moreover, there should be complete drinking water analysis sampling to prevent the water-borne diseases, twice a year. Proper maintenance and inspection of drinking water distribution system and use of chlorination technique to kill the pathogens should be mandatory at government level. By adopting such beneficial strategies we can safe our and our loved ones’ lives on sustainable basis.

Authors: Hinnan Khalid, Muhammad Zia-ur-Rehman

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