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For the want of experts, an inventory is delayed

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

 

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One comment

  1. NEC, the apex body of environmental organization in Bhutan doesn’t even have a capacity to perform simple data analysis baffling. NEC just need to produce an inventory report on water resources, which doesn’t even need higher statistical methods. If thats the capacity of our NEC, I wonder what fruitful contributions can they make at local or regional or international climate issues negotiations.

    In my opinion, instead of using limited funds to monitor Wangchu water quality, we need to focus more on the quality of our drinking water systems. This could cut down waterborne diseases and in a way we can avoid the medical expenses related to these diseases. So, we need to first focus on our drinking water and then, we should be moving forward to ensure water quality of all our river systems.

    Clean Bhutan survey showed “high level of alkalinity and pH almost 6”? This doesn’t make sense. Higher alkalinity should result in pH higher than 7. So, it is very confusing result and without having access to original report we cant determine who is right or wrong. At the same time, the pH level of 6 or 6.2 is within a natural range and I don’t agree to Mr. Nedup citing it as “polluted and highly toxic”.

    “The growth in algae means there’s high level of alkaline in the river,”. I would argue that addition of nutrient creates algal bloom and algal bloom is responsible for causing higher pH (Alkalinity)

    Yes there is pollution of our water systems but i think the facts has to be reported correctly and at the same time NEC has to pull up their socks. I can’t imagine NEC saying that they cant even produce an inventory report with all the data they have!

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