Nima | Gelephu

Without adequate supply of drinking water for about a month, residents of lower and upper Pelrithang chiwogs in Gelephu are collecting water from Maochhu and nearby streams.

Water taps and pipe in the chiwogs are dry.

Gewog officials say residents are complaining about the water shortage.

Gelephu gup, Ugyen Wangchuk, said the intake tank was almost empty when they went for an assessment. “People started collecting water directly from Maochhu, which is risky for health.”

He said people faced water shortage after Gelephu thromde constructed a structure similar to intake tank at the source while repairing the old pipeline. “There was a shortage of water about this time last year but not acute like this. The natural course of water or seepage could be disturbed.”

At the consultative meeting with the gewog, thromde and other stakeholders on May 3, gewog officials asked Gelephu Thromde to keep them informed when such activities are carried out.

The officials also discussed the need to harmonize tapping of water from the source sustainably.

They agreed Passangchhu has become an important source for both thromde and gewog in winter.

Gelephu thromde’s chief engineer, Ugyen Dorji, said developing an improved method of harnessing water at the source, Passangchhu, was done with thorough study and assessment.

The thromde is currently constructing a 3ms long bottom-intake weir, a standard practice used to tap drinking water from the sources sustainably without any effect on the seepage and natural course of water.

The structure is expected to standardize conventional and unsustainable practices that would have an adverse effect on the water seepage at the source, according to the officials from the thromde.

“Pipes used at the source were washed away when it rained. Pipes had to be replaced every month and year. The intake points had to be moved upstream yearly as the sources started to dry,” Ugyen Dorji said.

He said that works to build the weir at the source were implemented as per the existing regulation and norms.

A study on the quantity of water volume in February found out that the Passangchu could produce over 22 million litres per day (MLD). However, when the reassurance test was done, the capacity dropped to 5 MLD in April.

According to an official from thromde, the production capacity of the stream dropped within two months because the gewog constructed new pipelines upstream, above the place where thromde’s weir construction is ongoing along Passangchhu.

“This was done without seeking clearances from the users downstream. We need to study how the intake tank was built at the new points to understand disturbances on the water seepage,” said the official.

Officials from the gewog said that the structure constructed along the stream was not reliable. “The materials used were not of the best quality.”

There are five different tapping points along the stream today.

Once the construction of the weir is completed, thromde is planning to facilitate a one-point tapping point for all users of Passangchhu.

Over 2,500 people from Pelrithang Khatoed and Pelrithang Khamed chiwogs, Army Welfare project, Royal Bhutan Army camp, Losel Gyatsho Academy, and Royal Bhutan Police in Pelrithang depends on Passangchhu for drinking water.