With the onset of dry season in the Kathmandu Valley, people have started experiencing perennial problem of drinking water. Almost 50 percent of the people in the Valley rely on underground water.
The statistics of Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL) and Ground Water Resources Development Board shows that half of the population in the Kathmandu Valley depends on ground water for drinking.
Though the Valley seems water abundant in rainy seasons, people of Kathmandu Valley suffer from water stress in dry season. Bhawani Prasad Khanal of Sohrakhutte, Kathmandu, said that he has not been able to draw water from the tube-well in his house for the past five years.
Khanal, who is also the Hydrologist Engineer, said, “There was no problem of water in the past, but I have been searching for the alternative after the water started to dry up in the tube well.” “There used to be less houses in this area in the past, now the number of houses has increased drastically, causing the water source to dry up,” Khanal said.
“There is no situation that the rain water gets collected inside the land,” he said, adding, “There are houses everywhere and the water does not get space to go inside the land.” He thinks that the main problem behind the water shortage is the consequence of haphazard urbanization.
Experts said that that the people of Kathmandu Valley who heavily depend on ground water have to face shortage of water due to the construction of buildings and infrastructure. Though the well gets full in the rainy season, the water starts to dry up after the onset of dry season. The KUKL has also been distributing less water in the dry season.
Although the Valley’s daily demand of water has risen up to 370.7 million litres, KUKL Assistant Manager Rabindra Pokharel said that the KUKL has been distributing 70.3 million litres in dry season and 120.8 litres in other seasons.
He said that the KUKL has not been able to meet the water demands of the people of Kathmandu Valley. The KUKL has been distributing around 50 percent of water from the ground water source. The KUKL has installed 59 deep tube wells of 200 meter for the same and preparations are underway to install three more deep tube wells.
There are 35 water sources in surface in the Kathmandu Valley, Pokharel said. The KUKL has been distributing water from 90 ground water sources, he added. Pokharel said that the KUKL has been operating 20 water plants to purify the water. There are 51 reservoir tanks and 39 pumping stations in the Valley, he said. There are 1300 kilolitres of pipeline in the Valley installed by the KUKL.
According to the statistics of Ground Water Resources Development Board, 35 water factories, 70 housings, 10 industries, 33 hotels and 14 hospitals among others have taken permission to install tube wells and deep borings to draw water.
Ground water level decreasing
The Ground Water Resources Development Board has studied water level in two places in the Valley. After carrying out study in Taudaha of Kirtipur, Kathmandu and Lubhu of Lalitpur, the statistics said that the water level has been decreasing. The study was carried out in Kirtipur in 2001. During the study, the water level was found in 7.95 meter. The study carried out again in 2014 showed the water level in 10.34 meter. The water level in Lubhu of Lalitpur was found in 30.1 meter in 2001 while in 2014, the water level was found in 40 meter.
According to the statistics, 30 years ago, the water was found at 8 to 10 metres below the ground. Now, it is hard to find water by digging 40 to 50 metres as well.
The tube well operated by the KUKL used to draw 1000 litre per minute a few years ago, now the tube well draws only 700 litre.
People used to depend on ground water in the Rana regime too. People used to fetch water from stone spouts and wells regularly. Among 390 stone spouts, 160 stone spouts have already been dried up.
Pokharel said, “If a man drills a deep boring, he cannot drill another deep boring around one kilometer radius to maintain the water level inside the land.”
According to Water Supply Management Board Act, 2063 (2006), 0ne has to take license to install deep tube well for business purpose.
According to the study carried out by JICA in 1990, the water level in the Kathmandu Valley has been decreasing as people have been extracting around 10 million liter water from the ground on the daily basis, warning of natural disaster due to imbalance in ecosystem.
The KUKL, which has been taking responsibility to distribute drinking water in the Kathmandu Valley, has been drawing 80 million liter water through 80 deep borings.
The private sector has illegally been drawing water by using deep tube wells and machines.
The safe zone of Kathmandu are Gongabu, Dhapasi, Sangla, Nepaltar, Goldhunga, Kavresthali, Manamaiju, Dharmasthali, Tokha, Khadkabhadrakali, Budhanilakantha, Chapali, Mahankal, Kapan, Chunikhel, Gokarna, Sundarijal, Mulpani, Gothatar, Nayapati, Thali, Jhor, Ichangunarayan of Kathmandu and the partially sensitive areas include all the areas of Kathmandu Metropolis except safe zones among Bode and Manohara of Bhaktapur, Sitapaila, Syuchatar, Naikap, Tinthana, Balambu, Machhegaun, Satungal, Matatirtha, Bandbhangjyang, Kunpandole, Jwagal of Lalipur.
According to Ground Water Resources Development Board, the sensitive areas include Dakshankali, Sheshnarayan, Chaimaile of Kathmandu; all the remaining parts of Lalitpur and all the parts except Northern and urban areas of Bhaktapur.