Unclean water tanks: 80 pc residents vulnerable to waterborne diseases
By Atif Khan
ISLAMABAD: Above 80 percent residents of the capital are vulnerable to water-borne diseases including gastroenteritis, typhoid, cholera and dysentery, as they consume unsafe water from unclean underground water storage tanks of their houses.
During a survey, Daily Times found that above 80 percent residents have not cleaned the water tanks for the last three years and most of them never thought about the risk of drinking unsafe water.
Most of the houses have two tanks, one underground for storage of water supplied by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the second on rooftop for supply to kitchen and washrooms.
The water stored in underground tanks gets contaminated as in some case the sewerage water mixes with it due to broken pipelines. The rooftop tanks are also not safe as different insects and other creatures enter the tank and die contaminating the water.
In apartments and flats having common storage tanks, residents pool money to hire labourers for cleaning the tanks after every three years. However, in many cases the tenants remain changed and they did not bother to clean the tanks.
“We after every two to three years pool Rs 300 to Rs 400 and hire a labourer to clean the tanks, however we have not cleaned the tank for the last three years,” said Bilal Ahmed, resident of Sector G-10/2 flats.
Another resident Kashif Khan said most of the people were living there on temporary basis, and did not bother to clean the tanks. Khan said he had moved to these flats six month ago and he had never thought about the risk of unclean water consumption as he was planning change the residence.
Some residents of the flats were of the view that they could not afford water supply disruption for the whole day to get the tanks cleaned.
It was also found that most of the people living in rented houses were oblivious of risk to health of their families.
“I don’t remember that I cleaned my water tank since I hired this house five years back,” said Imran Khan, resident of Sector F-6, adding, “frankly speaking I don’t have time to clean it as it is not my property and my family uses bottled water.”
“I am working in a private firm and cannot afford to spend whole day on tank cleaning, my wife is also a working lady and doesn’t have time either, that’s why we have not cleaned the tank for the last two years,” said another resident.
Residents also told Daily Times that they were not aware of any firm offering water tank cleaning services in the capital and they hired labourers who manually washed the tanks.
It was also learnt that CDA did not clean its water storage tanks and supply water to residents through rusty and contaminated pipelines.
Environmentalist Dr Azharuddin said that most of the people did not clean tanks, as they were unaware of the health risk involved. He said people did not check the condition of their tanks and blamed water supply lines for contamination and water-borne diseases.
The situation gets worse when water supply source (water supplied by CDA) contains pathogen bacteria, said Azhar. The bacteria multiplies in water tanks and it could cause diseases including hepatitis, gastroenteritis, typhoid, cholera and dysentery.
Quoting United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reports, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) officials said consumption of contaminated water was the major cause of many serious water-borne diseases. According to an estimate, about 40 percent of the prevalent diseases are due to contaminated water and about 250,000 children die each year due to water-borne diseases in the country.