The quality of water supplied from the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Cogen Plant is unfit for consumption, residents of DHA and adjoining areas told The News, adding that the desalinated water supplied from the plant had a pungent smell and even tasted salty.

Association of Defence Residents (ADR) General Secretary Asad Kizilbash said that many residents had complained to them about the poor quality of water produced by the DHA Cogen Desalination Plant. “It is imperative that quality and taste of the desalinated water should be improved so as to make it fit for human consumption,” he said.

University of Karachi (KU) Institute of Environmental Studies professor Dr Moazzam Ali Khan told The News that desalinated water could only be consumed after ensuring that the concentration of dissolved salts is less than a specified quantity.

“If desalinated water produced by the plant is of bad taste and smell, then the issue is probably one of dissolved salts. The quantity of these salts should be reduced through an in-built mechanism of membranes in the desalination plant. You have to ensure that the maximum level of total dissolved solids level in desalinated water should not exceed 500 parts-per-million (ppm),” Dr Khan said.

Kizilbash said that earlier in 2008, when the Cogen plant had been functioning, there were complaints of the desalinated water being saline, but the problem had later been overcome.

An official of Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) maintained however that the issue of taste and smell of desalinated water was not a serious one, and it must have occurred due to disproportionate chlorination of water. He said that samples of the desalinated water had been sent to a reputed local lab to determine its fitness for human consumption.

Residents meanwhile expressed grave reservations over the technical, administrative, and financial handling of the desalination plant by its parent company, Defence Cogen Limited (DCL), in which the DHA has a minimum stake (as compared to the position when the DCL was founded).

Meanwhile, Cogen Plant officials informed CBC authorities last Sunday that the plant had been shut down for maintenance work. CBC thus only received desalinated water from the plant till October 3, given that the plant was only re-commissioned on August 21 this year.

The issue of water scarcity in many areas under the jurisdiction of DHA and CBC has taken severe proportions since the turn of the current year. On Monday, the CBC received 7,114,500 gallons of water supply from the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB), which is insufficient to meet the requirement of around 14 million gallons per day requirement of the DHA and CBC.

“We have also serious concerns that several deadlines had passed for making the DHA Cogen plant fully operational without any interruption so that it could produce the desired three MGD quantity of water for residents of DHA and Clifton,” Kizilbash said.

He added that residents of the DHA and CBC have no option but to avail the water tanker service, and buy water at exorbitant rates.

Source: The News