Lack of specialists to analyse data on the state of water resources has held up compilation

NEC: The raw data and a database are ready for the water resource inventory, but lack of expertise to analyse it had delayed the compilation of a first ever inventory.

The water resource inventory was conducted to assess the state of water availability and situation of water sources in the country.  It was initiated, following concerns raised by dzongkhag representatives during the mid-term review of the 10th Plan, on water shortages and drying up of sources.  The Gross National Happiness commission directed the National Environment commission (NEC) to conduct the water resource inventory.

However, the inventory, which began in August last year, would be completed in June this year, NEC officials said.

“We have all the raw data and database of the inventory but we don’t have the capacity to analyse these data,” officiating head of water coordination division, Jigme Nidup said. “We’re in a process of hiring a consultancy to analyse these data, which will be completed in June.”

The same goes for the ambient water quality testing conducted in the Wangchu last year.  The division is yet to analyse this data as well.

“As per the 11th Plan, the division has increased the sampling sites to conduct ambient water quality testing, which we’ve conducted twice in Wangchu this year,” Jigme Nidup said.  NEC will also train their officials to analyse such data in future.

“The training will look into how to analyse, based on standards and water sample collection methods, and interpret the final results,” he said.

Meanwhile, Clean Bhutan, a private project, had also conducted a pH test on the Wangchu last year, wherein high level of alkalinity was found in the river.  The pH test showed readings from 6 to 6.2.

Clean Bhutan’s Nedup Tshering said that this meant the river was polluted and contained high levels of toxicity.

“The toxicity of the river is mainly caused by trash thrown in the river, which in turns affects the aquatic ecosystem of the river,” Nedup Tshering said. “More than 23 storm water drainage systems flow into the Wangchu with trash everyday.”

After exactly one year, Clean Bhutan conducted a test, where they found out an increase in growth of algae around the storm water outlets this year.

“The growth in algae means there’s high level of alkaline in the river,” Nedup Tshering said. “When I go around cleaning campaigns, public is concerned about the waste thrown in the river, but they don’t know where to throw.”

It’s time that the agency concerned take up this as a serious matter or else the Wangchu will be another Bagmati river in Nepal, flooded with trash, in the making in a few years from today, Nedup Tshering said.

By Thinley Zangmo