LAHORE - The official agency responsible for supplying quality drinking water to the people of Lahore claims that it is doing well what it is supposed to do. However, a survey conducted by The Nation in various areas of the metropolis shows no decrease in the use of bottled water in Lahore despite the recent exhortation by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar to people that they use boiled water and give up the expe  nsive one being marketed by various companies.

Water and Sanitation Agency has 560 filtration plants in the metropolis from where nine million people take clean drinking water everyday, WASA authorities said.

The quality of bottled water and the price the users have to pay for it came under discussion at the Lahore registry of Supreme Court recently. During the hearings, the CJP said he himself uses boiled water and people at large could do the same to save their hard earned money.

To encourage people to use water available at the filtration plants, the WASA is going to launch a special campaign.

During the survey, owner of a departmental store in Township, Muhammad Ibrahim, said “There is no decline in the sale of bottled water and people are buying the bottled water as usual”. However, he did not say how many bottles are sold everyday.

Another store owner in Garden Town said he did not see any fluctuation in bottled water sales.Sales are as usual, he said. 

A resident of Wafaqi colony Najam said: “I don’t think people are paying heed to appeal of Chief Justice of Pakistan regarding the use of boiled water”.

Wasa Managing Director Syed Zahid Aziz told The Nation that Wasa has been efficiently providing quality water to the citizens of Lahore. “A recent test of Wasa’s water carried out on orders of Supreme Court of Pakistan showed that our water was up to the mark. The water samples had been t    aken from various parts of the city and were tested by laboratories other than those of WASA, he said.

According to him, Punjab University Institute of Chemistry, and Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources PCRWR had tested the quality of water, he said, adding that the results were a testimony that people can trust our water,” said Mr Zahid Aziz.

He said 90 percent of Lahorites are using the water filtered through Wasa’s filtration plants and all of the Wasa tube wells are checked regularly.  Out of 1172 square kilometer area of Lahore District, Wasa covered only around 40 percent area of Lahore and provides clean drinking water to 350 square Kilometer (Wasa service area). On the other hand, 1422 square kilometer of Lahore is out of Water and Sanitation Agency’s jurisdiction and those areas fall in Cantonments and private housing schemes.

Wasa’s jurisdiction goes to Shahdara, Johar Town, Thokar Niaz Baig, Township, Green Town, Vadami Bagh, Taj Pura and other areas.

Right now, of 12 million population of the city, Wasa has 0.7 million water connections and is collecting revenue from 80,000 meters.

“Agency is fully on board about the challenge to collect the revenue in terms of billing. To improve the revenue collection we have introduced Project Blue Drop and have approved the budget in Annual Development Budget ADB 2018-19 at the cost of 3.62 billion,” MD Wasa said.

The Project Blue Drop will be providing water to 1 million people in Wasa’s jurisdiction in the allocated zones and it will charge the consumers as per the water usage. New meter will be installed that will allocate the exact amount of water and it will eventually discourage people to use borewell water motors.

Project Drop zones include Garden Town, Mustafa Town, Green Town, Baghbanpura, Mughalpura, Data Nagar, Ravi Road, Johar Town, Samanabad, Sabzazar, Mozang, Tajpura, Misri Shah, city, Fateh Garh, Gulberg and Shimla Hill.

Project Blue Drop is a five-year project and 2018-19 100,000 consumer connections will be given.

According to the project 20 overhead reservoirs will be repaired and the average cost per blue drop area is Rs 181 million. The per connection cost is Rs 36,200.  “As pilot project connections have been allotting, “MD said.

While the main hurdle to provide clean water at Wasa filtrations plants is electricity fluctuations to which agency is considering on multiple options to overcome the untoward scenarios.  The water filtration plants are equipped with Auto-wash back system and it does not require filters that used to be installed in old filtration plants and required hefty amount of amoney to change those filters.

Instead of starting new schemes, Wasa is focusing on completion of old schemes including a scheme of ‘Improvement of Water Supply System in MA Johar Town & Tajpura Zones of Lahore’ through Zoning/Isolation, Installation of Filtration Plants and 100 Metering (Bulk, Distribution and Consumer Levels), Lahore on which 26 percent work has been completed.   Wasa Deputy Manager Director Aslam Khan Niazi said all the filtration plants are being monitored by automation system Supervisory control and data acquisition’ (Scada) which is a distributed computer monitoring system that detects any problems in the issuance of the filtered water and Wasa technical staff respond to these problems.