Delta Life 11

DHAKA In Dhaka, Bangladesh, policymakers are looking for alternative sources of clean drinking water. The surface water is heavily polluted. There isn't enough groundwater tomeet demand. And rapid population growth is expected to put evenmore pressure on resources that are already depleted. Fortunately, a good solution has been found: the water from the Meghna, a river thirty kilometres east of Dhaka, can be diverted to the city. It could supply forty percent of the drinking water for the inhabitants of Dhaka – who number more than twentymillion – in the coming years. Deltares has been involved in preparatory projects: investigating, monitoring and protecting water quality in Dhaka. The involvement of local communi- ties was vital: they are the eyes and ears in the area, and they are trained tomonitor water quality. As soon as local people see pollution in the water, they alert the authorities. The participants are highly motivated. After all, they benefit directly from the project: this is their own drinking water. On top of that, less pollutionmeansmore fish, more food and more income. To safeguard the quality of the Meghna water for future generations, action is needed on several fronts. For example, better treatment is needed for industrial and domestic waste water, pesticide levels have to be reduced and environmental legislation must be enforced. And if the organisations involved do what is needed within the foreseeable future, the Meghna can be a very reliable source of drinking water. Now and in the future. More information: IMAGE HOLLANDSE HOOGTE