ISLAMABAD: Around 53 per cent of water samples taken from filtration plants and other sources in Islamabad contain high bacteria.
A report submitted to the Islamabad mayor’s office by the Water Quality Control Cell (WQCC) of the civic agency shows that along with filtration plants, water from a number of tube wells and overhead tanks is also contaminated and unsafe for human consumption.
In late July, the WQCC collected a total of 55 samples from different water sources across Islamabad. “Of the 55 samples, 26 samples were found safe to drink, while the remaining 29 samples were found unsafe,” says the report, which was issued on July 29.
Incidentally, while a few areas had at least one source of clean drinking water, sectors G-6, G-7, and I-9 had zero sources of clean water between them, forcing residents who cannot afford bottled water to travel long distances to get water or risk falling sick.
“‘Unsafe’ means that the water contains excessive levels of bacteria, chloride, and fluoride,” said WQCC Deputy Director Nadir Hussain Soomro.
Soomro attributed a number of factors to the appalling test result, including irregular cleaning of supply lines and overhead tanks, and setting up tube wells which are too shallow to provide clean water.
Although the issue of inconsistent water quality at filtration plants is well-known among citizens, the extent of contamination in secondary water sources is worrying.
Only three of the eight tube wells checked provided acceptable water, while two of the ten water tanks tested were safe to take a drink from. Earlier this year, the cell tested 11 water filtration plants, seven of which were unsafe to drink from.
Soon after the report was issued, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the CDA to ensure the supply of “superior” quality water to residents of Islamabad. The report suggests the directive has been ignored. Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz admitted that after inspecting some of the filtration plants and overhead tanks across Islamabad, he found their condition to be “unsatisfactory”.
He said that majority of the water filtration plants were not being run by the CDA as the civic agency has outsourced them to private contractors.
“The WQCC report has just been released but it has not arrived at my table,” Aziz said, adding that action would be taken against those responsible.
The mayor said that he was working with local government representatives to improve the situation while noting that it would take some time to make discernable progress.