Water utilization has increased by nearly 10 per cent in Lahore since the outbreak of the corona virus in February according to government officials.
Water utilization due to frequent hand washing and disinfection has increased everywhere. Lahore is Pakistan’s second-most populous city was using 640 million gallons of water per month. But since February the usage has gone up to 700 million gallons according to the public relations officer at the state-run Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA).
Ever since Pakistan imposed a nationwide lockdown in March and the government-mandated work-from-home system came in effect, the provincial and federal governments have been rolling out public information campaigns advising people to wash their hands frequently, for at least 20-seconds, to guard against the deadly virus.
Lahore, the city of over 11 million, was already witnessing a one-meter annual drop in its groundwater. The situation could be further aggravated if the outbreak continues for a few more months. Govt officials are thinking on the lines of using surface water, like from the Bambanwala-Ravi-Bedian Canal (BRB) to meet the city’s water requirement.
Pakistan is a water-scarce country. Reports by the United Nations Development Programme and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) warn that the country could run dry by 2025.
After the pandemic struck water utilization has risen across the country, not just in Lahore according to Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) officials. However, there is no exact data on the total increase in water utilization, as no study has been conducted as yet.
But as the country-wide lockdown is eased and more industrial sectors open up, the water demand could further spike.
The household and industrial use only make up 4-5 percent of the total water utilization in the country. The bulk, around 93 percent, is still used by the agriculture sector, where there are no changes in water usage, even during the lockdown.
For now, the provincial and federal governments are looking to launch information campaigns advising people to save water by turning off the tap when applying soap.