Yangon water supplies to outlast hot season, says YCDC

Yangon has nothing to fear from El Niño, city officials say, despite warnings that the weather phenomenon will bring drought to many parts of the country. Thanks to advance planning, the reservoirs that supply the city’s drinking water are 15 centimetres (6 inches) higher than they were this time last year, they say.

U Myo Thein, assistant engineer of Yangon City Development Committee’s Water and Sanitation Department, told The Myanmar Times in a recent interview that YCDC had been deepening and strengthening reservoirs and dams throughout the last rainy season. He said this would help to both prevent flooding and boost capacity.

“We strengthened the banks to enable a higher water level. Since this year is forecast to be hotter and drier, the evaporation rate could increase. To counteract that, we have conserved forests in the water basins of our reservoirs,” he said.

Yangon’s water supply is drawn from both underground and above-ground sources. YCDC is planning to phase out the use of underground water over the next few years while it develops pipelines for above-ground water supply, said U Myo Thein. The department has started extracting less underground water, while closing down 100 of 760 tube-wells dug in the 1970s and 1980s and building fewer new ones. But as of January 2015, around one-third of households in the city were still not hooked up to the city water supply, according to YCDC.

Water supply expert U Kyaw Oo, the author of Ye Kyi Da Pauk (A Drop of Clear Water), said over-reliance on underground water had caused the water table to drop significantly. He said that unless urgent action was taken this trend would continue over the next 20 or 30 years, bringing further reductions in groundwater quality.

“Most people in Yangon use above-ground water supplied by the city,” he said. “But there is still an urgent need for conservation of underground water. The volume of underground water is falling and it is becoming salty in some places near the banks.

“The area that has been concreted over is increasing, preventing rainwater from seeping underground. One alternative is to store rainwater in old tube-wells, as some countries do.”

The Ngamoeyeik water supply project, which began in 2014, delivers 45 million gallons to Thingangyun and South Okkalapa townships via a pipeline from Nyaung Hna processing works, said the deputy department head in charge.

“Before, Thingangyun ward residents had to use wells, but now they receive water through the pipeline. This allows us to reduce dependence on underground sources. Another benefit is that it prevents river levels from rising, and helps reduce pollution,” he said.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency has been a major driving force behind recent efforts to improve Yangon’s water supply network. It has provided 1.9 billion yen (US$16.6 million) for a project that includes the overhaul of a pumping station, and the renewal of pipes and installation of water meters in Yankin township, which will benefit more than 2000 homes.

In September 2014, the government and JICA signed an agreement for a low-interest loan of 23.683 billion yen ($208 million) for the Greater Yangon Water Supply Improvement Project, which will see pipelines rolled out to outlying areas of the city such as east, north and south Dagon, Dagon Seikkan and the Thilawa special economic zone by November 2020.

Yangon is supplied mainly from Gyobyu, Ngamoeyeik and Hlawgar reservoirs, backed up by Inya and Kandawgyi, as well as a fleet of tankers, say officials.

 

Sourse: The Myanmar Times

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