Rains raise water stock to record high
By Ahmad Fraz Khan | 5/30/2015

LAHORE: The massive rainfall in March and April has raised the country`s stock of water to record levels, according to official charts made available on Friday.

For the first time in its history the country has 8.91 million acre feet (MAF) of water.

Tarbela Dam has 3.48MAF, Mangla lake 5.17MAF and Chashma 0.26MAF of water.

On the corresponding day of last year, the country had only about 3MAF of water 0.115MAF in Tarbela lake, 2.88MAF in Mangla Dam and 0.018MAF in Chashma reservoir.

Last year, the water level in Tarbela Dam was 1,390 feet against 1,493.5ft now. And Mangla had 1,171.5ft of water last year against 1,212f t now.

`Two factors have led to Pakistan boasting record water stocks today: late rain that brought down the demand for field water and healthier than expected water flows, said an official of the Punjab Irrigation Department.

Punjab received heavy rainfall in March and April, with up to 300mm being recorded in March alone. `With temperatures still behaving, at least at nights, the water demand is down substantially, allowing the water managers to conserve maximum water,` he remarked.

`In fact, the inflows (at reservoirs) have far exceeded projections made by the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) this year, said another Punjab government official.

`According to the Irsa projections, water level in Tarbela Dam should have been 1,466.7ft on May29, whereas it has touched 1,493.5f t a difference of 26.73ft.

`Similarly, the water level in Mangla lake should have been 1,176ft, whereas it has gone up to 1,212ft, a difference of 36ft,` the official said.

Jointly, the rivers had 222,400 cusecs of water on Friday, giving planners ample quantities both for releases and conservation, he said.

`The position is so good that the planners are finding it difficult to manage water now, ` said a member of the Punjab Water Council.

This year Pakistan is likely to release a huge quantity of water into the sea, according to the official. This drives home an important point, which the Punjab Water Council has been making for a long time; more reservoirs should be built in the country.

`Pakistan can conserve only about 4.5MAF of water. The rest goes to the sea because of lack of capacity to store water.

The official said that if the rivers continued to follow the current trends and had more reservoirs been built in the country, Pakistan could have stored more water which could have been utilised in the years having low rainfall.

`This is the point that the government needs to consider.

`Pakistan raised the Mangla Dam by 30 feet and it was able to fill it up last year. This year, too, the country is likely to fill it up.

`This is happening even though the dam before expansion was filled for only seven years out of ten. However, after the expansion work the dam is being filled every year, ` the official said.

`Thus, Pakistan needs to build dams, so that it may benefit from Mother Nature`s occasional largesse,` he concluded.

Published in Dawn