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Lahoris being supplied contaminated drinking water

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LAHORE: A majority of samples of drinking water being supplied by the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) to the Lahorites showed E-coli bacteria, suspended particles, arsenic and other such contamination in it.

According to experts, the presence of E-coli, a kind of fecal coliform bacteria, indicates sewage or animal waste contamination in drinking water while the suspended particles also pose threat to human health.

Sources say that though the senior officials of WASA continue receiving water sample reports/results, which indicate contamination but they never took any serious action.

“It is really an alarming situation but who cares?” an insider deplored.

According to an official letter of Aug 20, the WASA managing director expressed displeasure over the situation, directing the officials to take measures for providing clean drinking water to millions of people in Lahore.

“It has been revealed from the water quality test (Report No. Chemist/WASA.LAB/770-74) of Aug 18 that samples collected show presence of E-coli/100ml and suspended particles. So, the managing director (Wasa) has shown his displeasure over such state of affairs and sought measures like cleaning/flushing of water supply lines and putting chlorine there,” the letter reads.

The letter, written to the Data Ganj Bakhsh Town-based Wasa director (Operations and Maintenance) by Deputy Managing Director (O&M) Asghar Ali Bhalli, also wants taking water samples again after making such arrangements.

Talking to Dawn, Wasa Managing Director Chaudhry Naseer Ahmad termed the contaminated water supply and extensive water suction by the consumers the main reasons for presence of E-coli bacteria, suspended particles, arsenic and other forms of contamination in water.

“In many areas of Lahore, water supply lines of 1876 are still being used. These are required to be replaced immediately as they are behind such complaints,” he said, adding the extensive water suction by the consumers through motors—particularly at the time when the water supply system became inoperative due to loadshedding or non-operative tube wells—was also another major cause as this practice takes bacteria, arsenic and particles into the water tanks.

The MD said the situation was alarming and Wasa recently installed 325 automated chlorinators at various supply line points—mainly at source (near to the tube wells) under a programme funded by the World Bank for Punjab’s five mega cities.

“Two hundred more chlorinators will be installed in various parts under this project,” he added.

Wasa had installed 200 water filtration plants in various parts of the city and more hundreds of such plants were being installed by the local government department, the MD said. “I hope the complaints concerning presence of bacteria, etc. will decrease gradually in future, keeping in view various development works being carried out by Wasa and other departments,” he claimed.

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