WWF introduces nature-based solutions to deal with the water crisis in Soon, Sakesar Valley


In the Salt Range, Soon Sakesar Valley is located in the northwest of Khushab District of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Home to beautiful lakes, the region has an abundance of saltwater lakes, home to migratory birds from Siberia in winter. But the farmers of the region had long been facing an acute shortage of water for irrigation, and now thanks to WWF for their intervention in the valley which introduced a few nature-based solutions to cope with the shortage of water.

Last month, the Institute of Urbanism, a research-based think tank, organized a trip to the Soon Valley for a cohort of environmental journalists to explore the nature-based solution to cope with the water crisis issues.

The journalists were briefed about the different projects launched by WWF, while the field visit was arranged by the Institute of Urbanism. The WWF’s intervention included: groundwater recharge well, rain harvesting system, floating treatment wetland, ablution water reuse system.

The officials of WWF and IoU are briefing journalists at Soon Sakesar Valley of Punjab. (Pamir Times Photo)

“Water is an important [issue of] Pakistan and the country is very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” Dr Ijaz Ahmad, senior program advisor at the Institute of Urbanism told Pamir Times.

“Though, there is no contribution of Pakistan to climate change. But it [Pakistan] falls in the top ten affected countries, he added, saying, “Pakistan is [also] a water-stressed country.

According to Dr Ijaz, with the shortage of water in the country, the quality of water in Pakistan is not good as well. Globally, the per capita demand for water is 1000 cubic metres per year. “But we have 850 to 860 cubic metres per capita.”

“Mostly, the water of Soon Sakesar Valley is salty and not useable. And the rest of the drinkable water is used in such a way that most of the water is gotten wasted.

“Groundwater Recharge Well

Groundwater recharge is a way to replenish those aquifers, either through better management of natural recharge zones or through the development of artificial recharge projects like recharge ponds, pits, and injection wells. Groundwater recharge wells are structures designed to recharge groundwater by allowing surface water, stormwater, or treated wastewater to infiltrate into the ground through a well.

Rain Harvesting System

Rainwater harvesting is a technique used to collect, convey, and store rainwater for future use from relatively clean surfaces such as a roof, land surface or rock catchment. Rainwater harvesting systems consist of the following components:

• Catchment – Used to collect and store captured rainwater. • Conveyance system – It is used to transport the harvested water from the catchment to the recharge zone. • Flush – It is used to flush out the first spell of rain. • Filter – Used for filtering the collected rainwater and removing pollutants. • Tanks and recharge structures – Used to store filtered water which is ready to use.

A view of the site of the Groundwater Recharge Well at Soon Sakesar Valley of Punjab. (Pamir Times Photo)

Floating Treatment Wetland

The loating treatment wetland is a type of water treatment system that utilizes a floating platform of vegetation to remove pollutants from water bodies. The design criteria for a floating treatment wetland depend on several factors, including the size of the water body, the types of pollutants present, and the desired treatment goals. FTWs involve placing a mat or raft of buoyant materials, such as foam, on the water surface and planting it with wetland plants. As the plants grow and their roots extend into the water, they absorb nutrients, pollutants, and other contaminants.

The benefits of the solution are a relatively low-cost approach to treating water; providing habitat for wildlife, including fish, birds, and insects; improving water quality and prevention of runoff and erosion; scalability to different sizes for treating stormwater retention ponds, sewerage ponds etc. They can be designed for the aesthetic value of parks, golf courses, and urban areas.

Ablution Water Reuse System

The ablution water reuse system is a facility designed to treat and recycle water used for ablution purposes, primarily in mosques. The treated water can be used for irrigation, horticulture, lawn washing, and for meeting non-portable water demand and hence reduces the pressure on the groundwater resources. Ablution water is relatively clean and contains low levels of physio-chemical and biological contaminants. The treatment plant consists of three chambers:

The benefits of ablution water treatment plants are numerous:

Conserve water resources by reducing wastage; reduce environmental pollution by preventing untreated water discharge; and promote hygiene and sanitation.

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