Saturday, May 25, 2024

Gwadar Needs Research on Water

By Tassadduq Rasool*, Mujahid Ali**

*Agronomy, **Horticulture; University of Agriculture Faisalabad

The port city of Gwadar has got more attention after being a part of China-CPEC program. This Sino-Pak project is expected to give unprecedented economic benefits to the region. The real estate personal skyline its future as a Dubai like city and Govt. is committed to making it a modern port city. However, despite many positive initiatives, still, it has an alarming issue and ground realities are quite different. Gwadar port city was hit by an acute water shortage this year when the main supply source “Akara Kaur Dam” dried out, that is located 25 km from Gwadar city. A team of researchers led by Shahid Naseem from the University of Karachi assessed water quality of Akara Dam and found its composition suitable for use as fresh water. However, it is influenced by calcium sulfate dissolution and might deteriorate its quality in near future. Water is a versatile resource for a human being that fulfills its domestic, agricultural and industrial needs. About 100000 local residents of Gwadar need access to this basic life facility. They are dependent on costly portable water supplied by tankers from a distance of 80 km. Gwadar, being projected a well growing port city, will have its water requirement increased in the coming days. According to Leonardo da Vinci “Water is driving force of all nature”. The government has prioritized to establish new desalinization plants under CPEC-project, to make fresh water available for the better future of this city. These plants will supply 5 million gallons of water per day at a rate of 80 cents per gallon. These plants will be inaugurated in January-2018 and people will have access to clean drinkable water. The development of the city is strongly correlated to access of basic life facilities. We need research that should prioritize the use of water according to its quality. Moreover, domestic use can be cut down by developing water conservation tools by domestic engineering. The ocean can be a good resource for an endless supply of drinkable water. The research should be based on desalinization of seawater, use of brackish groundwater and reuse of wastewater. The most prominent techniques for desalinization are thermal desalinization adopted in the Persian Gulf and pretty much common is “the reverse osmosis” everywhere in the world. Water is taken through intake pipes from the ocean, filtered from largely sized contaminants or sea living creatures and passed through pressurized reverse osmosis system, to screen salts through membranes. The only issue is that, membranes pores are choked by microbial colonization and it makes it costly to periodically clean the membranes. Recently a breakthrough in the membrane technology has been made, that utilizes the lava stone to capture microbes, before they reach the membranes. There are several other possible technologies of future like “Spin cycle” developed by Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California; membrane screening under low hydraulic pressure, forward osmosis, and microbial fuel cell etc. Another cost-effective technology is “Biosantizer” developed by Dr. Uday S. Bhawalkar in INDIA to treat waste-water. This technique is an ecological-based and has shown sustainability for the last 12 years. Recently a group of scientists in Australia has developed a salt tolerant wheat by incorporation of gene “TmHKT1;5-A”; a big breakthrough in the food production in the salt-affected areas. Moreover, Israel is meeting 60% of its domestic water needs by desalinization of water. The research on efficient use of water in homes has cut down to halves than actual needs. They have prioritized the research on drip irrigation, water treatment and desalinization. The major driving force behind all this effort is that, Israel is in one of the driest regions and has faced the challenge of severe drought in 2008. So, turning ocean into drinking water is not out of future now. The Sorek desalinization plant in Israel is the largest facility in the world, working on reverse-osmosis principle. It supplies 1.5 million people with drinkable water. There would be seven desalinization plants working by 2020, in Los Angeles and Orange counties of USA. Another important facility is in Carlsbad desal, that is supplying 50 million gallons of water per day to San Diego, USA.  The cost estimates show that fresh drinkable water has no alternative. The cities near the ocean have limited access to fresh water, and they meet their need either from imported supply or from desalinization. According to estimates, desalinization costs might range from Rs. 209000 to Rs. 221000, per 326000 gallons of water (Costs converted from Dollars to Pak currency). There are many disasters due to water shortages. Recently in Syria, more than a million farmers made strikes in Aleppo because drought affected severely the agriculture and wells eventually dried out due to extensive pumping deeps in the water table. The efficient household water use can be a game changer as well. Israel recaptures the 86 % of the water going down into drains and utilize it for agriculture. Another most efficient country is Spain that has the capability to capture almost 18% for utilization. The modern world has developed the efficient toilet and shower systems, and innovative treatment systems that make them reusable. Water conservation has become essential even in areas of abundant water supply. Overall, I can say, it’s not easy to make all waters drinkable especially from the sea that contains salts within a range of 30000-40000 ppm as compared to freshwater 1000 ppm. Still, there are a lot of option and a hope. The desalinization era has been started by Israel.

Dr. Mujahid Ali
Dr. Mujahid Ali
I am working as Assistant Horticulturist (BS-18) at Water Management Research Farm Renala Khurd, before this served as Assistant Professor (IPFP) in Horticulture at the University of Sargodha. I have completed my Ph.D. in 2018 from the Institute of Horticultural Sciences, UAF previously worked as Visiting Lecturer in Horticulture UOS, worked as Research Fellow in ACIAR project on vegetables, and worked as Teaching Assistant in Horticulture UAF. Moreover, Ph.D. IRSIP did in the NC State University, United States.

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