Lack of fresh water in Kalutara: Crisis till rains arrive

A persistent fresh water supply problem faced by those in the Kalutara District would go on till the rains arrive, The Sunday Morning learnt.

Additional General Manager (Western Province) of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) Krishan Fernando told The Sunday Morning that a significant portion of the Kalutara District had not received fresh water for over two months.

He said that over two months ago, salt water had flooded the NWSDB water intake resulting in fresh water being mixed with salt water.

As a result, the NWSDB has been supplying water through water bowsers since February to 65,000 water connections.

“We supply water through water bowsers. We have 1,200 water tanks and the populace collect their water from those tanks,” Fernando said.

He said the water bowsers transport an estimated two million litres of water to these water tanks in Kalutara on a daily basis.

He said that two solutions had been proposed and are being implemented. One was the construction of a new water intake further upstream, which would then pump fresh water to the existing water intake.

“Construction was ongoing and scheduled to be completed in November, but with the Covid-19 pandemic, everything has come to a standstill,” Fernando said, adding that he hoped the new intake could be completed by February 2021.

The second option was the construction of a salinity barrier downstream towards the estuary mouth opening to the sea. However, that project, which is being done by the Irrigation Department, was still in its preliminary stages.

“It is still in the design phase. I think it will take at least five years to be completed,” Fernando said.

As a result, the only solution would be for significant rainfall to occur. “Once rains come, we can flush out the salt water and start pumping fresh water again,” he added.

However, he noted that he wasn’t sure when rains would come next due to the erratic weather patterns.

“Hopefully, we will see some rain in the coming months,” he said, assuring that there is no shortage of water supply in the Kalutara District as the water bowsers are able to provide an adequate supply.
–Skandha Gunasekara