Jigmi Wangdi

As change in climate affects the natural environment, 1,856 water sources in Bhutan are drying up and 69 sources have already dried up, according to the Department of Water.

Records with Department of Water (DoW) under the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MoENR) show that the country has 3,182 rivers and rivulets with five main river basins and smaller basins. The five river basins make up 70,576.01 million cubic metres with an annual flow of 2,238 cubic metres per second.

“The sources of water in Bhutan mainly depend on precipitation making up 88 percent, 2-12 percent depends on glaciers, and 2 percent on the melting of snow,” the official said.

These details were presented during the two-day Bhutan Climate Conclave with experts from different government agencies and organisations yesterday.

According to the United Nations, the world will see a 40 percent global water deficit by 2030. The demand for water is expected to increase by 55 percent between 2000 and 2050.

Of the 71 percent volume of water on earth, oceans and seawater make up 97 percent, polar icecaps make up 2 percent and rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands makeup 1 percent, and only 0.3 percent of the earth’s surface constitutes freshwater.

According to multiple assessments, it is projected that climate change will worsen issues related to water availability through an increase in seasonal variability leading to erratic flows, and depreciation of water supply Infrastructure.

Experts predict that the wet season will be wetter and shorter whereas the dry season will be drier and longer.

There are increasing risks of water sources drying, increased floods which can potentially trigger landslides, especially in the long-run and melting of glaciers poses risks of GLOF events.

To prepare for such issues and to prevent disasters related to climate change, the DoW is carrying out strategic actions such as ensuring climate-resilient and safe drinking-water supply, strengthening the institutional capacity of water resource management, among others. 

The Bhutan Climate Conclave was organised by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, MoENR with support from the Bhutan Ecological Society.

The conclave aimed to take stock and deliberate on priorities for climate change adaptation and mitigation in the country and build frameworks and leverage partnerships for transformative interventions for Bhutan’s climate priorities.