Contaminated water supply is a major cause of concern for the city of Lahore. Government and private hospitals alike are overflowing with patients suffering from gastroenteritis, typhoid and hepatitis, all because the government is failing to provide safe drinking water to the ten million citizens of this city. Water quality test of the majority of drinking water samples supplied by the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA), show the presence of E.Coli, a bacteria abundantly found in sewage and animal waste, as well as arsenic and fluoride.

This can be explained by the continued practice of discharging domestic waste containing household effluent and human waste to a sewer system, a natural water body or a nearby field, which finds its way to the groundwater supply. The presence of arsenic and fluoride in sub-soil water was the result of untreated industrial effluent in water supply sources such as rivers and canals. As the contamination problem grew worse and the relevant authorities continued to evade the issue, a contempt petition moved last month by Dr Allah Bakhsh Nadeem, a resident of Lawrence Road seemed to jolt everyone to take action.

The Lahore High Court subsequently ordered WASA to separate water supply from the sewerage system of the city and submit a compliance report till September 15, whereas the provincial government has assigned WASA a project to remove sewer inlets from the Lahore Canal in efforts to reduce contamination of the drinking water supply. It remains to be seen how the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and WASA, deal with improving the water supply system, which needs upgrading desperately. The old rusty pipes, non-operating tube wells, and a lack of chlorinators at supply points are exacerbating the problem. The provincial government would be wise to take swift action to address this problem, which is the root cause of widespread disease, especially Hepatitis, which the common man cannot afford to seek treatment for.