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Groundwater can be recharged: experts

Published : 14 Aug 2019 07:59 PM | Updated : 03 Sep 2020 10:07 AM

People in the capital city, Dhaka, are dependent on groundwater, but due to excessive extraction, the groundwater level is going down day by day.  However, like that in developed countries, Dhaka’s groundwater can be replenished, experts say.  Because of the water level reduction, most of the pumps installed by Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) are not getting proper water. Although pump pipes are deeper.

 Nazrul Islam, Chairman, Centre for Urban Studies (CUS) Dhaka, told Bangladesh Post, “Recharging ground water can be a solution. Wetlands, canals and most of the rivers near Dhaka city are grabbed by influentials. Both Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) and city corporations have detailed master plans. We have laws, we have to focus on implementation,”

He suggested that extraction level of groundwater can be minimized, even up to zero percent. Dhaka Wasa extracts 80% of the groundwater. Natural water recharge can be fruitful. From individual level greening can help and empty spaces like playground can help naturally to recharge groundwater level” Water experts warn that the consequence will be to suffer in the future if no immediate action is taken to deal with the situation. Moreover, botanists say it's not even good news for the city's plants.

Water Specialist and Professor of Bangladesh Engineering University (BUET). Mohammad Ashraf Ali told Bangladesh Post "There is no new progress on groundwater, but it is getting worse day by day.But hopefully, Dhaka Wasa has taken initiatives to reduce dependence on groundwater. If master plans are not implemented, the water level will go down further. For this reason, the citizens will have to face adverse conditions.”

According to the study, underground safe water level is going down by at least one meter per year. Moreover, because the rivers around Dhaka are highly polluted, the river water cannot be completely safe as drinking water in city dwellings.  Though the government has tried in different ways, water cannot be secured at the right level with the water treatment plant. In addition, this polluted water is affecting underground water.

He said, there has not been any study yet to determine whether underground water is going down or damaging the environment or the plants. When the soil becomes dehydrated, there is a danger of environmental damage, he said. There is a need for better research on the matter. Experts say, the quantity of water lifted every year should be filled with normal conditions. 

However, the use of concrete in the city is increasing on the contrary to open spaces, due to which rainwater is not able to be absorbed by the soil. As a result, underground spaces are not being filled. Such a situation has occurred due to the unplanned and uncontrolled drainage of the water by leaking water earlier. When asked, WASA Director (Technical) AKM Shahid Uddin said, "We are producing more than the water demand. However, most of the water comes from underground sources. We have three projects underway to reduce the pressure on groundwater. We expect groundwater withdrawal to decrease significantly by 2021. '

Drinking water levels beneath Dhaka is not a danger, but it is not good news, said Professor of Crop Botany, Sher-E-Bangla Agricultural University, and Kamal Uddin Ahmed. He said, there are several layers of water. Levels can be found in some areas even at 4-5 feet below. Somewhere, between 8-10 feet. Again, water is available anywhere from 5-6 feet. Now the underground water level in Dhaka has gone down 100 to 300 feet. Earlier, 100 feet down, water would still be available. In addition, to get good water you have to go down 700-800 feet.

He said that the roots of trees do not usually go so deep. The plant's growth has little to do with this water. However, the issue is that the plant will have to get water and it will depend on the quality of the soil.

M Inamul Haque, Chairman at Institute of Water & Environment, told Bangladesh Post “artificial water recharge is not an economically feasible decision for the future. Groundwater level is decreasing that is true. Dhaka city’s ground water comes far away from the city. Tanagail (Modhupur) and Brahamaputra tract provides most of the surface of Dhaka.”

 In the near future it may cost much labor and money to lift water. Dhaka’s groundwater level is dropping, but this is not true the capital will be out of ground water. Artificial water recharge is a frugally sustainable solution.”