Choki Wangmo

Under the water flagship programme, the country is for the first time carrying out river bank filtration for Amochhu water treatment plant.

Currently, the assessment of the procedure is underway and if it is successful, the method would help reduce the cost of supplying water to Phuentsholing town.

Riverbank filtration is a water treatment technology that consists of extracting water from rivers by pumping wells located in the adjacent alluvial aquifer. During the underground passage, a series of physical, chemical, and biological processes take place, improving the quality of the surface water, substituting or reducing conventional drinking water treatment.

Once the data collection is complete with analysis, Department of Geology and Mines is expected to carry out hydrological assessment and the study report will be ready by June.

Gross National Happiness Commission secretariat officials said the flagship programme would see major updates at the end of this month during a meeting with the Prime Minister yesterday.

The programme is in the initial stage of primary assessments and data collection including the establishment cost and inventory of facilities.

Last month, the flagship secretariat visited sites at Amochu and Omchu in Phuentsholing. The team found that the main transmission line for the Amochu scheme fell along the underdeveloped road and the new township area which might give rise to coordination issues later.

The identified area for the main distribution line was prone to landslides and is affected by nearby dredging activities. However, the project engineer assured the team it would be stable.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the flagship secretariat and authorities involved should identify areas according to the severity of water problems so that the solutions could be worked on. “For instance, water related problems in Thimphu throm should be identified so that there are particular solutions to each problem.”

With an approved budget of Nu 500 million for the fiscal year 2019-2020, the  first phase of the programme would be implemented in Chukha, Dagana, Mongar, Paro, Pemagatshel, Samdrupjongkhar, Samtse, Trashigang, Trongsa, Wangdue and Zhemgang, and the four thromdes.

Protecting critical watersheds and wetlands, developing adequate and climate resilient infrastructures, improving the drinking water quality surveillance and strengthening implementation of water legislation to provide round the clock safe drinking water, and irrigation water, among others are some of the important components of the flagship programme.

The areas were identified based on the number of households and water supply per hour per day.

Currently, a total of Nu 119 million was released to the thromdes and dzongkhags for the current fiscal year.