LAHORE: The Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) has completed laboratory test of its 115 tube wells and the reports would be presented before the Supreme Court (SC) on the next hearing on Saturday, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Pakistan Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on December 28, 2017, directed WASA to collect and analyse water samples from all the tube wells in the city and ordered them to submit the laboratory report on the next hearing. The CJ directed the authorities while hearing the suo moto case on the supply of unsafe drinking water in the provincial capital — Lahore.
Currently, 576 tube wells are being operated by WASA to supply water to the residents while there is no record of the hundreds of other tube wells being operated in different towns and industrial units of the city.
However, WASA collected water samples from 115 tube wells and got tested from the Pakistan Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (PCSIR) and Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) laboratories.
Sources informed that besides water samples from tube wells, WASA also collected at least 278 water samples from houses which were also sent to the said laboratories to be tested. They said that WASA preferred 105 tube wells among 115 to collect water samples which were recently installed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
“After alarming reports of high arsenic levels in WASA tube wells, JICA in 2016 replaced or upgraded 105 tube wells in different areas of the Lahore,” they said adding that the JICA completed the project with the huge amount of Rs 2.2 billion as aid.
It was revealed in the lab test report that sand particles in the water were found exceeding the international standards from the water sample of NA 119 constituency’s tube well. According to the standards, the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) level more than 1000 is considered as hazardous while the TDS level was found more than 1100 TDS from the said tube well.
Sources further said that WASA will start collecting samples of other 460 tube wells after presenting the report to the SC. However, they said that in the first phase WASA intentionally preferred the tube wells installed by JICA because officials were fully aware of the high level of contamination in the other 460 tube wells.
This is pertinent to mention here, more than 100 tube wells in last three years have been closed in the city due to the poor quality of water.
WASA spokesman, Imtiaz Ghauri told Pakistan Today that WASA has installed arsenic removal plants in the tube wells in which the arsenic level was high.
On a question on how WASA collected samples soon after SC’s orders, he replied that WASA had collected and sent the water samples to laboratories for tests beforehand.
Ghauri said that WASA is ready to collect samples of other tube wells as well but there was a delay at the testing laboratories end as they required at least a six months period to complete the tests.
“When a new tube well is installed, it has less contamination while the arsenic is a separate level which just can be reduced through arsenic removal plants which are installed at every tubewell,” he said adding that WASA did not close any tube well and the tube wells where high levels of contamination was found, had been upgraded.