One question that we encounter a lot is “What after Melamchi comes?” For the first couple of years as a company, it was a question fairly easily ignored since Melamchi seemed like a literal pipe dream. Then as the years progressed, Melamchi progressed very quickly including the equally necessary distribution pipe improvements, meaning that the targeted 2018 completion date and delivery of water is highly likely.
Melamchi is a much-needed project for Kathmandu. Better municipal water means a healthier population and less groundwater extraction. One has to applaud the progress of the project, although the valley denizens wish for a little less dust.
This brings us back to the topic, what will happen post-Melamchi? Does this mean that rainwater harvesting and water filtration are no longer necessary? No. There are three reasons for this.
- Melamchi is 20+ years late, it was originally forcasted to meet the demand at the beginning of the new millennium. Now the demand is approaching 400 Million Liters Per Day, with a current wet season supply of 150 MLD before leakage. That is a shortage of 250 MLD, excluding leakages, which is more than Melamchi phase 1 will bring. Rainwater harvesting for direct use is still needed to reduce continued groundwater extraction.
- Water quality is still an issue. Currently more than 50 percent of municipal water taps are contaminated, while this is a target of Melamchi, until there is a full year or more of continued quality monitoring at the household level, water quality can’t be 100% trusted. SmartPaani’s Tripti filter continues to be best economical solution for this.
- Stormwater management – We have written about this before. Before cities were made, stormwater infiltrated into the ground through farms, forests and grassland. Now stormwater washes pollutants off the roads and (sometimes) flows into wastewater treatment systems. In a monsoon climate, like Nepal where nearly 1.5 meters of rainfall is packed into primarily 6 months, this creates an undue burden on wastewater treatment systems. Already, there are problems with the existing system, stormwater flows make them worse.
This is even a problem in developed countries, cities like New York and Philadelphia are investing billions into natural retention and recharge systems to minimize wastewater costs and sewage spills. Kathmandu and other urban cities can do the same on an individual and neighborhood level, which will both help restore groundwater and minimize flooding and sewage spills. SmartPaani provides these services, our own office has a well that recharges more than 3 lakh liters and has eliminated the flooding problem that happened every monsoon because of the storm drain blockage.
Kathmandu is blessed with an amazing network of historical water infrastructure, from stone spouts to pokharis to community wells. This infrastructure should be restored as well. One way to help do this, especially for many of the historical ponds and some stone spouts, is increasing recharge again.
SmartPaani is committed to providing services to give access to sustainable water sources, and as a company does rainwater recharge (70 million liters yearly and counting), water filtration, and also wastewater treatment systems. After Melamchi comes, a sustainable way of managing stormwater and maintaining water quality, along with restoring the waterways of Kathmandu, is necessary. SmartPaani can help individuals, offices, and institutions work toward this together.