Khalida Niaz

Peshawar uses about a million liters of water for washing vehicles on daily basis. Figures obtained from different sources said that there were about 500 car wash centers in provincial capital. A car wash on average handles 20 to 22 cars and motorcycles on daily basis.

Dr Asif, a climate change expert said that in Pakistan’s 100 to 200 liters of water was used per car in Pakistan. On the other hand, in US and developed world use only 30 t0 40 liters of water was used to wash a car.

“Peshawar’s car wash centers really use water very recklessly,” Dr Asif said. However, he said that main reason for this was not using modern technology.

Dr Asif, who holds a PhD from Cambridge University, said that Peshawar’s car wash centers were using outdated pressure equipment. “This is why water table level in Peshawar and other parts of KP was going down,” he said.

He said that modern equipment used these days can clean car in two to three liters of water. Besides, 90 to 95 per cent of car washes used water is also recyclable. However, he added that sadly there was no water recycling system available in Pakistan.

“Water is not a free resource and water used for domestic and commercial purposes should be priced separately to bring down its wasteful use,” he said. Besides, he said that government can also encourage or subsidize water recycling plants to reduce water wastage.

 We have no system for recycling water

Inamullah, a manger at a Peshawar car wash told TNN that they use up to 22 vehicles and bikes a day. However, he said that they use potable water for washing cars and there was not mechanism to reuse the water.

He said that his car wash center employed six people. Mr Inam said that there were more than 1000 car washes were operating in the Peshawar and thousands of people were working in them.

“My car wash is registered with the Water and Sanitation Service Peshawar and they pay Rs 11,000 to water utility every second month,” he said.

Pakistan ranks third on water scarcity index.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) report has ranked the Pakistan third in the list of the countries facing severe water shortages.  On the other hand, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Pakistan Council for Research on Water Resources (PCRWR) have warned that the country could face a severe water crisis by 2025.

Hisaar Foundation’s efforts to save water

Sanaa Baxamoosa, general manager of non-profit Hisaar Foundation, said her organization was working to save and conserve water. “We tell people how to conserve water,” she said.

Ms Baxmoosa told TNN that they were working to raise awareness among masses about not washing vehicles with a pipe. She said that significant amount of water could be conserved in case of washing vehicles with a bucket and a piece of cloth.

Ms Baxmoosa said that car wash centers should move towards recycling and using greywater to save water. Besides she said that car washes should also store the water used to wash vehicles so that it could be recycled.

According to a report, about 30 million Pakistanis lack access to clean water. Besides, the report said that per capita water availability in the country was less than 1,000 cubic meters per annum.  On the other hand, if this figures drops to 500 cubic meters per person year, then Pakistan is going to face severe water shortage by 2025.

Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world in terms of population. Its population has jumped to 220 million from 180 million in 2017. Pakistan water demand is estimated to go up to 274 million acre feet by

It should be noted that Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world in terms of population. In 2017, the population was 180 million, which has now reached 220 million. In this regard, by 2025, Pakistan’s water demand could reach 274 million acre feet while the supply is likely to lag behind at 191 million acre feet.

There is not water shortage, but misuse is very high

Ayesha Khan, founder of the Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization and chief executive of the Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change said that though water shortage was not a big issue at the present. However, she said that wastage of water constituted bigger problem.

Ms Khan said that car wash centers were wasting potable water extensively for washing vehicles. She said that these centers could conserve huge amounts of water through recycling, which was unfortunately, not happening.

She said that car wash centers should also play their role in this regard. Ms Khan said that government also needs to formulate a policy in order to force people to take the issue seriously.

“Population has a big hand in water scarcity in Pakistan,” Ms Khan said. She said that the growing population has increased the demand for water; however, the water supply has remained the same.

Besides, she said that water supply was on decline due to climate change.

“We are using water but are not protecting it,” she said.  On the other hand, Ms Khan said that people have dug up tube wells everywhere and were pumping out water. “Water table has gone down considerably and we cannot find clean water above 300 to 400 feet depth,” she added.

Why small dams are need of the hour?

Ms Khan said that construction of small dams for storing water was the need of the hour. Besides, recharging water aquifers was also necessary. “We should strive to conserve water at home, offices and all other places and also focus on recycling,” she said.

She said that wastage of water could also result into water shortages. “There is no life possible without water,” she said.

Mian Fawad Ali Shah, media and communication officer, WSSP, said that his organization has 168 car wash centers registered in 43 councils of Peshawar. Besides, he said that they have also installed water meters at these car washes.  IN addition to this, citizen liaison teams of WSSP were also working to raise awareness about water conservation among them. He said that there were car wash centers in cantonment and Peshawar Development Authority limits; however, they were beyond WSSP jurisdiction.

Mr Shah said that they have also launched a campaign to conserve water in Peshawar.

Water conservation is need of the hour

Dr Asif said that research showed that water will increase over coming three to four decades due to melting of glaciers. However, this increase will not be on permanent basis and amount of available water will come down in long term.

Besides, he said that climate change has also changed rains patterns. “Rain these days is a sudden downpour or there are floods, but it does not recharge the aquifers,” he said.

There is no store below, it used to be that it used to rain for many days and it was not heavy, it was light but now the rains are less and the rains are also heavy.

On the other hand, heat and water consumption has also gone up while many other places besides car wash were wasting water, he said.

Dr Asif warned of tough future if wastage of water was not stopped. “We can control the situation, if we start taking action today and there is a great need to raise awareness regarding water conservation,” Dr Asif added.