The Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) has planned to tackle the problem of unavailability and provision of water in the city by installing another 260 generators at Wasa tube wells to provide uninterrupted water supply during Ramazan. This is just another disappointing quick fix that the city officials have slapped on the failing water infrastructure of the city, which in most parts of Old Lahore has not witnessed an upgrade since partition.

While there are many divisions operating in the provincial capital to ensure provision of water, there is not one trying to do so while being mindful of the city’s receding water table due to unsustainable consumption. Pakistan is facing a severe water crisis and without this understanding, all other temporary solutions like adding more tube wells or generators only makes matters worse for the future.

A report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan last year revealed that due to excessive extraction, the water table depth in central Lahore had receded by 40 meters. WWF projected that it could recede to 70 meters in most areas of the city within the next 10 years. This is an extremely worrisome problem and the government must regulate these official bodies to protect the scarce resource before groundwater is depleted beyond replenishment.

The importance of underground water recharge must be highlighted to understand the role of river hydrology in sustaining Lahore’s aquifer. The government must build recharge reservoirs, intercept floodwater at catchment areas to recharge ground water, build small dams and most importantly put a heavier water tax on those who can afford to pay. Considering that the situation in the city is so dire, the imbalance and disparity of water provision in different areas of Lahore is shameful. Water is a necessity and a right of every individual regardless of their socio-economic strata.