SRINAGAR:  Frequent hand washing has increased the water consumption by 20 percent in Kashmir .

Against the mandated 135 liters per capita per day, water consumption has increased to around 200 liters per day. This follows the health advisory urging people to frequently wash hands with soap to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“There has been an increase of 20 percent in water consumption since the COVID 19 outbreak. People take extra precautions and focus on hygiene and cleanliness at home. Therefore the water consumption has increased across the valley,” said Abdul Wahid, Chief Engineer of Public Health Engineering (PHE), Kashmir.

Currently, PHE manages nine water treatment plants that have the capacity of treating 92 MGD of coarse water. Of the nine, Rangil and Nishat plants treat 40 MGD of water.

“We do not have a problem as far as the supply of water is concerned. Since summer is a few weeks away, we are meeting the demand with ease. Plus, the construction industry and tourism sector consume a lot of water. Since both sectors have shut down, we are not experiencing any difficulty to dispense water to the common man”, said Wahid.

However, new quarantine centers have put pressure on the demand structure.  Nearly 120 tankers have been pressed into service to augment water supply in different areas and quarantine centers. 

“By God’s grace, we do not have a deficiency. We have pressed 120 tankers into service. We have adequate chemicals for treating water. We have enough manpower to manage water supply schemes and provide uninterrupted water supply to the consumers”, said Wahid.

Officials, however, fear that the consumption may increase further in case the coronavirus pandemic extends beyond summer.  Sensing trouble, Jammu and Kashmir government has issued advisory listing dos and do nots to avoid water scarcity in the coming months.

“By turning off the tap during 20 seconds of handwashing, two liters of water can be saved and a family of five individuals would save 100 liters per day. It is incumbent upon every individual to ensure that tap water remains closed for those twenty seconds so that coronavirus crisis doesn’t turn into water crisis”, said an official spokesman.

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