- Published: October 31, 2021
- Updated: October 31, 2021
- University / College: Western University
- Language: English
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Water Resources of PakistanWater is the basic human need and as we know a humancan live up to 80 days without food, but only a few days without water. Wateris the basic need of every living thing on earth as we know no living thing canlive without water. However, its use in unbalanced and unmanaged way has madeit reduced its quantity to a great extent.
Pakistan is now facing a bigchallenge to meet the requirements for its population and water is becomingscarce in Pakistan. In Pakistan, about 96% of its available water is beingutilized for agriculture and the remaining 4% for domestic, industrial andother purposes. Per capita water availability has decreased from 5300 m3 in 1951to 850 m3 by the year 2013.
IndusRiver Basin The Indus basin covers about 386,000square miles area and touches China, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan).catchment of Indus Basin contains some of the largest glaciers in the world.Glaciers are spread in an area of about 2,250 km2 and most of the water comesfrom there in the summer. Its source is Tibetan plateau and Indus riverinitially flows in north west direction before it bends into south to flowsouth west making its way through Pakistan to the Arabian sea. Snow and glacierwater is the main source of input for this river system as there isn’t muchrainfall in this region.
The lower reaches are very braided, meaning the riverhas many channels, and flow is slow though the waterless plains region whereevaporation is also very high. The river ends in a low triangular area ofalluvial deposits where it divides before entering the sea (i.e.
a delta) whichincludes numerous mangroves. These mangroves are an important reserve not onlyfor the wildlife and maintaining diversity of plants and animals in theenvironment but also for the millions of people who depend on them includingthe fishermen living there. The whole system relies strongly on glacial water,making it vulnerable to change particularly the increased temperatures which canchange the speed at which the glaciers will melt down which means river-flow inthe Indus will be largely affected. Major Water Resourcesin PakistanMajor water resourcesin Pakistan are rainfall, ponds, rivers, glaciers, lakes, streams, wells,surface water from rivers and rainfall, etc. So, the water is more than enoughfor irrigation and other purposes. The water from these dams and reservoirs isnot only used for irrigation and supplying water for daily consumption, butalso used for hydroelectric power generation.
1. RainfallThere are twomajor sources of rainfall in Pakistan i.e. the Monsoons and the WesternDisturbances. About 70 percent of the annual Monsoon rainfall occurs from Julyto September. Pakistan has both arid and semi-arid zones. The entire Indus plainreceives an average rainfall of about 212mm and 53mm respectively.
The rainfallchanges as we move from the north and northeast directions to the south of thecountry. The areas that receive some appreciable amount of rainfall duringsummer as well as in winter season are northern canal commands of the Punjaband the canal command areas of KPK. The following graph is based on a researchof 10 years of rainfall in some cities of Pakistan. Source:Agricultural Statistics of Pakistan (Various Issues).2. GlaciersPakistan isthe country which is blessed with the largest number of glaciers on the planetmeaning that the only places that has more glaciers than Pakistan is North andSouth Pole. Around 13,500 square km area of Pakistan contains glaciers whichwould be around 2-3 percent of Indus Basin and that is the the place where mostof the run off occur from in the hot weather. In Karakoram Range, the totalglacial length is 160 km.
About 37 percent of the Karakoram area is under itsglacier, Himalayas has 17 percent and European Alps has 22 percent. It is estimated that the total glacial area ofthe upper catchments of Indus is about 2,250 sq. km, which is mainly from mostof the river runoff in the summer season. The snow fed Kabul river starts fromUnal Pass in southern Hindukush is at an elevation of 3,000 meters above thesea level. After flowing in eastern Afghanistan, it enters Pakistan from northof Khyber Pass. The Jhelum River originates from Kashmir at lower elevationthan that of Indus River (Pakistan Water Strategy Report).
3. Riversand Dams Pakistan has alot of rivers that are tributaries to Indus. The five main rivers which joinIndus from eastern side are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, beside threeminor rivers are the Haro, Soan and Siran.
There are number of small rivers which join the River Indus from thewest side, in which biggest river is Kabul and others are Kunar, Punj, Kora.The Gomal Kurram, Tai, Kohat Tank and several other small streams join theIndus River from the right side. The Table 1 transpires that maximum flow in Indus River during theKharif season (April to September) was 55.087 MAF and at minimum flow was42.208 MAF and on the average, was 51.
3 MAF during the period 2002–07. Theoverall maximum flows during kharif season of six rivers including Indus,Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlaj and Kabul was 118.9 MAF in 2005-06 and minimumflow was 80.
226 in 2004-05 and on the average, it was 101.9 MAF during theperiod 200207.Similarly, for the Rabi season (October to Mach) the maximum flowin case of Indus River was 10.
0 MAF in 2006-07 and minimum flow was 8.5 MAF in2003-04. On average, it was 9.1 MAF during 2002-07. Whereas, overall maximumflow for the Rabi season for all the major rivers was 29.2 MAF and minimum was21.6 MAF in 2002-03 and on the average, was 25.
1 MAF during 2002-07. Table 1 Source:IRSA, Islamabad.4. SurfaceWater The resourceof surface water is the Indus System based on the river inflow restrained at therim station. In the setting of Indus Basin System, a rim station is demarcatedas a reservoir or a barrage on river just when the river system enters theterritory of Pakistan.
The rim stationsfor the Indus System Rivers are the Kalabagh Barrage for the main Indus River,Marala Barrage for the Chenab River, Marala Reservoir for the Jhelum River, andSulemanki and Balloki barrages for the Sutlej and Ravi rivers. The Indus System and its tributaries carryabout the 154 MAF of water in a year. Rivers that are on the West side, hold145 MAF water and rivers on the East side comprise of water of about 10MAF. From the above total amount ofwater, 105MAF is used for irrigation, 50 MAF water goes into the seepage or seaor vaporizes in the way and it can be seen as a loss or the water also spillsin the flood. The overall flow of the Indus river changes on the annual basis.The directionof water that is present in the Indus river is changed to the present canalsthrough reservoirs or barrages at that place.
Water from the main system isthen sent or diverted into the branches and from there water goes directly intofields and is used for the irrigation. Thecanal system is the best irrigation system till today in the whole wide worldand it was made by the Britishers during their reign. The irrigation systemcomprises of 16 barrages, 3 major reservoirs, 2 head-works, 2 siphons acrossmajor rivers, 44 canal systems, (23 in Punjab, 14 in Sindh, 5 in NWFP and 2 in Baluchistan)12 inter river link canals and more than 107,000 water courses. The canals arearound 56,000 km long.
Along with the above land system also ground water isutilized. About 42 MAF water is pumped out with the use of tube wells inPakistan. (Pakistan Water Strategy Report).5. Groundwaterin Pakistan Groundwater isone of the main sources of water in Pakistan. About 90 percent of the freshwater is ground water and it can also be easily accessed with the use of rightmachinery. In Pakistan, a great amount of groundwater is available throughoutthe whole country.
But because of the frequent use of water and because of lessrain the quantity of groundwater has decreased to 41 percent in last few years.About 80 percent of Punjab province is blessed with unconfined aquifer andabout 30 percent of Sindh province is blessed with groundwater. Water is pumpedout and is used for irrigation and drinking and other purposes. The water whichis not clean or not fit for drinking is used for the land irrigation after itis mixed with the canal water but not alone. In Sindh province, where qualityof water is good it mixed with canal water and is used for irrigation and thishas been going on for many years now and the use of tube wells came into beingafter a few years or a decade of independence and a large number of tube wellshave been installed and the number is around half a million. Pakistan take outabout 55 MAF of ground water and utilizes it.
(Pakistan Water StrategyReport). 1. DamsThere is ahistorical and political background behind building of dams in the Pakistan.See, there were only three dams in the Pakistan when we it got independence andcountry was short of water and power.
After a short period of time India alsostopped the water for the Pakistan. Country was in dire need of water. At thetime of independence there was on dam in Punjab in Mianwali district, one damwas in Baluchistan and there was also a third dam. So, in 1955, Pakistanstarted building dams due to coming short of power. Warsak dam was built nearPeshawar on the Kabul River.
When India stopped the water for Pakistan later,country face big problems and its canal system was defected and to cover itcountry needed to build dams for the water storage. So, then the Mangla andTarbela dams came into being. These two dams have the capacity of roughly 17.5MAF, as part of its Indus Basin Replacement Works.
Also a number of watersupply dams were created and were undertaken and are still in use. Table2 Source: MTDF (2005-10).The abovetable is the list which tells about the total capacity of the reservoirs suchas Tarbela, Chashma and Mangla which is around 18 MAF. From 2003, because ofthe sedimentation around 25 percent of water capacity is lost or decreasedwhich isn’t good for the country.
Accord to a report by MTDF, by the year 2010the amount will increase to 35 percent and country needs to do something aboutthis. Source:Google Maps Source:Pakistan’s Vision of Water Resource Management. Tarbela andChashma dam are located on the Indus river and Mangla dam is located on theJhelum river. All the canals and their tributaries are around 64,000 km longwhere total water course is 1,621,000 km long. The water from the rivers isdiverted into canals through the barrages which are a type of weirs. Thosecanals derive the water into their branches and vice versa and this way waterreaches the irrigation land and land is cultivated.
Though this system waterreaches the channels and watercourses deliver water into the land. The waterfrom the watercourses does not directly go into the land but the turns based onthe time schedule are set for each farmer or land owner. This system is called”Warabandi”. Source:Google Earth Source:PakistanAffairs National Water RequirementsPakistan’swater storage capacity is just for 30 days against the minimum requirement of120 days while most of the developed countries have 1-2 years water storagecapability.As we knowthat no living thing can live without the water whether it is man, animals orpants. Water is the main need of every living thing and the country of Pakistanhas a large area of ground water and also a good river system present andworking in it. Water comes from the mountains and glaciers and then flows fromthere to the sea and in the way, it’s used and utilized though the canals andrivers and barrages and the modern technology. The total area of Pakistan isaround 75 million hectares, and around 22 million hectares area of Pakistan isused for irrigation purposes.
Agricultural Statistics of Pakistan (2005-06)At the time ofindependence, the per capita water availability was comparatively very high ascompared to now. Per capita water availability has been declining at analarming rate, from 5300 cubic meters in 1951 to about 1200 cubic meters in2000. Water availability data is given in Table.
Source:Draft State of Environment Report 2005.In the tablebelow, the total water requirement, its availability and overall short fall isgiven for the years 2004 and 2005 and compared with 2025, which is quite alarge amount and the country needs to build dams or will have a largedeficiency and will face major problems in irrigating the land. Source:Ten Year Perspective Development Plan 2001-11, Planning Commission.