Climate change exerts negative impact on water quality, availability

ISLAMABAD      -       Climate change has threatened water resources, impeding industrial and agricultural development and potentially turning Pakistan into a waterstressed country. According to a report by KTrade Securities, climate change is more likely to have a negative impact on water quality and availability in Pakistan. Changes in rainfall patterns, droughts, flooding and the geographic redistribution of pests and diseases are just a few of the direct and indirect effects of climate change on agricultural productivity in Pakistan. The report said the agricultural industry has witnessed the biggest increase in water demand in absolute terms over the past five decades. It said climate change is more likely to change the timing of the peak flow and increase the variability of flow volume in the Indus River, which meets most of Pakistan’s irrigation and household needs. This is primarily because less predictable precipitation patterns are causing less of the overall flow volume. Talking about the concerns over water availability and quality due to climate change, Malik Muhammad Waris, Deputy Director of Farm Water Management, Chakwal, told WealthPK that climate change affects the whole world and Pakistan is no exception. He said policymakers will have to make specific strategies to resolve this problem. He said Pakistan should focus on application of various smart irrigation approaches such as moisture conservation methods that reduce water application losses. He also advocated large-scale adoption of contemporary irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation and sprinklers. Malik Waris said Pakistan is heavily reliant on the Indus basin for irrigation. “The Indus basin receives surface water from the Indus River and its tributaries. In the Indus basin, major sources of water flow include monsoon rainfall, glacial and snowmelt runoff and groundwater. The Indus basin provides about 180 billion cubic meters of water, of which 165 billion cubic meters (the Indus, Chenab, and Ravi) and 15 billion cubic meters (the eastern rivers) are supplied by western rivers.” “Sadly, Pakistan has a lower water storage capacity per person than China, Morocco and the US. Furthermore, Pakistan can only store water in the Indus basin for a maximum of 30 days,” he explained. Waris said climate change had also intensified glacier melting. He said the northern highlands of Pakistan were shaped by the Himalayan, Hindu Kush and Karakoram ranges. “The Hindu Kush Himalaya region is referred to as the Asian Water Tower, which affects both local and global climate systems. The glacial and snowmelt in the upper Indus basin ensures 80% of the flow to the Indus River. The glaciers, especially those in the Hindu Kush and Himalayan mountains, are melting fast due to climate change. Importantly, one-sixth of the world receives water from glaciers and snowmelt. The Indus River largely serves Pakistan’s household, industrial and agricultural requirements. Water availability would be impacted by how glaciers respond to climate change,” he further explained.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt