Officials find valley water contaminated

KATHMANDU: The government has been pumping unsafe drinking water to the Kathmandu Valley residents, which could potentially cause a serious health hazard, experts warned here today.

Low-income people who rely on the supplied water and have no means to afford bottled mineral water, are the major ones to suffer, officials said.

The drinking water supplied currently by the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL) has been reported to be tainted with dangerous levels of chemicals, viruses and bacteria.

What is even more worrisome is the fact that the drinking water pipes run parallel to the leaking sewerage pipes, resulting in the possible fusion of two pipes contaminating the drinking water, something even the Managing Director at the Central Office of the KUKL office, is caught unaware of.

In the wake of severe shortages of supply, the possible risk of drinking contaminated water goes unreported.

Fear of getting sick, even the officials at the helms of affairs, working for the safety of the drinking water, have resorted to using bottled mineral water for drinking.

Ramesh Pradhan, an official at the KUKL, Lalitpur, acknowledged that the quality of drinking water currently supplied to the residents in the Kathmandu Valley was “doubtful”.

"As we couldn't rely on the quality, we are using jar water in our office these days,” he said.

Similarly, Bishnu Kumar Karki, a technical officer at the KUKL, said he would rather drink bottled mineral water but not the supplied water.

"At home I am forced to use contaminated water but in my office, I am using jar water,” he said, adding that the problem of drinking water in the Kathmandu Valley is a complex one, which he said is hard to ascertain.

Despite a large chain of commands and authorities behind the management of the Valley drinking water for many years, nothing concrete has been accomplished yet to provide safe drinking water to the residents.

Rabin Lal Shrestha of Water Aid Nepal said that only a small percentage of the Valley population have access to safe drinking water.

Conservative estimates show that roughly 27 percent of the total population in the Kathmandu Valley has access to safe drinking water.

Shrestha said that the unsafe drinking water has led to a slow-poisoning of the population which he said has long-term health implications for the people.

The government had some years back installed three treatment plants at Mahankal Chaur Reservoir, Bansbari Reservoir and Bode Reservoir but the plants are not brought into proper use, said a KUKL official.

However, when asked to comment KUKL chief said that the water in their reservoirs was fit for drinking.