Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our Student, Emily Keene, makes this connection in Karachi, Pakistan. This current event was reported in The New York Times on February 12, 2015, under the title, “Starved for Energy, Pakistan Braces for a Water Crisis,” by Salman Masood. The water scarcity in Pakistan is documented by former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority, Shamsul Mulk, in a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report.

Due to climate change and increasing populations, Water Resource Engineers face the issue of providing the public with the proper quality and quantity of water. The federal water and power ministry outlined policy in January of 2015 to promote water conservation in Pakistan. The state minister for water and power, Abid Sher Ali, states, “Ensuring sustainable availability and conservation of fresh water resources to meet surging domestic, industrial, agricultural, energy and environmental needs, adapting water sector to climate change, waste water recycling, flood water management and rainwater harvesting are among key objects of the policy.” Because the country’s agricultural industry uses approximately 96% of its freshwater resources annually, water resource engineers need to implement sustainable water use practices within the farming industry. This news is vital to water resource engineers because, even in the United States, there are water scarcity issues that could greatly impact our society as well. Because the United States also uses a large percentage of the freshwater resources available in the country, sustainable practices within the farming industry would alleviate the issue. Observing the issue in Karachi, Pakistan should be a warning to other countries that, without sustainable water use practices with climate change and growing populations, water scarcity could be a reality that they face. An important detail that could be included in the article would be a figure of how the increasing population and climate change have affected the water supply in Pakistan. The article explains that Pakistan has 1,000 m3 per person per year available, and is a fivefold drop since their independence in 1947. However, analyzing a figure that can illustrate the exigency of the water scarcity may increase the reader’s alarm and put into perspective the seriousness of the issue.

Figure 1: Afghan refugees pumped water by hand in a slum of Islamabad, Pakistan. An official warned that Pakistan could become “a water-starved country.”

Figure 1: Afghan refugees pumped water by hand in a slum of Islamabad, Pakistan. An official warned that Pakistan could become “a water-starved country.”

Figure 2: A girl collecting water for her family at a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad.

Figure 2: A girl collecting water for her family at a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad.

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are important to Karachi, Pakistan. These issues are interconnected, and without a stable economy, environment, or society, Pakistan could be a dangerous place for its residents. For example, in north Pakistan, hydroelectric power is the keystone of the electricity source. Consequently, water shortages cause ten hours of power shortages a day in Karachi. In some places of Pakistan, there is as little as four hours of electricity a day. Due to the electricity crisis, the government is strained. It is apparent that due to these strains on the government, the people are losing faith in their government, especially the Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. Adding the country’s resource challenge regarding water supply also reduces the crop yield; thus, adding to the economic and societal issues. In addition, the water shortages that reduce the amount of power the residents have, the people are resorting to fossil fuels that can pollute the air and the little water they have. It is evident that the water shortages have a great impact on the community of Pakistan if a farmer’s legal challenge results in a judge in Lahore telling the government to begin implementing its climate change plans since there has been, “no progress on the ground.”

References

Masood S. Starved for Energy, Pakistan Braces for a Water Crisis. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/13/world/asia/pakistan-braces-for-major-water-shortages.html?module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&action=keypress®ion=FixedLeft&pgtype=article. Published February 12, 2015. Accessed February 22, 2017.

Mehra M. Pakistan ordered to enforce climate law by Lahore court. Climate Home. http://www.climatechangenews.com/2015/09/20/pakistan-ordered-to-enforce-climate-law-by-lahore-court/. Published September 20, 2015. Accessed February 22, 2017.

Shaikh S. Pakistan unveils plan to tackle looming water crisis. Climate Home. http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/03/23/pakistan-unveils-plan-to-tackle-looming-water-crisis/. Published March 23, 2016. Accessed February 22, 2017.

Shams Ul Mulk Special Review Committee Report on Islamabad International Airport Project. Shams Ul Mulk Special Review Committee Report on Islamabad International Airport Project. November 2015. http://www.caapakistan.com.pk/upload/documents/Shams-Ul-Mulk-Report.pdf. Accessed February 22, 2017.

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