The proof of a crisis is when the normal wells in the Gampaha District ran dry, with the falling water table and blame was laid on heavy water using Industries that are contributing to the economy and growth. For the purposes of argument, I will just concentrate on this area, and not the Country as a whole, but with the Tanks in other areas, there is better provision for stocking water, but even here, tanks must be rehabilitated to hold more water, then there is more available for agriculture and the incidence of drought conditions reduced.
The citizens ire should instead have been directed at the poor harvesting of rain water, and the state not sufficiently proactive in raising groundwater sources by directing rainwater to holding tanks to fill aquifers, instead of building more and more canals and drains to quickly send all rain run off to the rivers and ultimately to the sea, and prevent flooding.
My contention is we have to use the low lying lands, much of which are uncultivated paddy lands that are not economic to cultivate without assured water, as water holding basins with some intelligent planning, and to direct this excess water to increase ground water supplies, instead of the current fastest route to the seas.
It is apparent that in the world water stress index, Sri Lanka which should be at the bottom, meaning the best placed, is in fact only in the middle, despite all the rainfall.
We must also remember, that due to climate change, there is short sharp heavy bursts of rain today as compared with the past, necessitating a storage mechanism, whereas in the past slow drizzles did not result in water flows, instead would be sucked into the ground in home gardens, grasslands and plantation sectors. Increasing urbanization, more concrete and less space for absorption have also exacerbated the problem.
Water Stress – What is it? And why is it so important for Sri Lanka?
Water Stress – The ability or lack thereof to meet human and ecological demand for fresh water; compared to scarcity, water stress is a more inclusive and broader concept.
Water Scarcity – The volumetric abundance or the lack thereof, of freshwater resources
Water Risk – the possibility of an entity experiencing water related challenge (scarcity, stress, flooding, infrastructure decay and drought)
In the report of the link above, Sri Lanka ranks 77 out of 164 Countries, with 1 being the most water stressed Country being Qatar and least water stressed at 164 Suriname in South America.
To summarize, despite however much rainfall we have, if we are unable to harness that and store it for use when we need it, and instead just let it go all the way to the sea, we could have high water stress, if our requirements/needs are not met.
IT IS THIS POINT that I wish to highlight and in this context relate it to the absurdity of drought conditions for the Western Province that has high rainfall and the state to take immediate steps to alleviate this stress, with better water management techniques.
We are being told daily that water is becoming more and more scarce, and so we as a nation must be cognizant of this, take elementary steps now to minimize the future shocks, and be prepared for ever worsening conditions of rainfall and flooding and drought conditions too.
It is often that we now see some parts of this small island having to deal with heavy rainfall, whereas other parts are suffering drought conditions, a very incongruous situation!
Why do we have a Government? The responsibility of the state is to look into the welfare of its citizens, and the access to water for our daily needs is of paramount importance in this regard, as a fundamental duty of the state. However, despite all the prognostications and pontifications that take place, no one in power, or seeking power has even picked up on this right and promised the citizenry that this will be a priority over others, as without water, nothing else matters, SURELY!
I simply fail to understand why in prioritizing what is critical, water does not come right up there as it is synonymous with environmental preservation as well a key component for the survival of the human race, that is we care!