Old plumbing, together with inefficient and wasteful use of water by the people were blamed for the staggering numbers. The world average for water waste stood at 18-20 percent. Hettiarachchi who is one of the three Secretaries appointed to the Presidential Task Force to tackle issues regarding the drought appealed to the public to use water more efficiently given the stresses placed on the supply during the drought. “We will do our best to ensure there is no water shortage.
At present, the situation is not dire but we are trying our best to prepare for the worst.
If the drought continues, we will have to pay more attention to protecting our water sources.
We ask the people therefore not to pollute the water, as this tends to happen more during the drought”, said Hettiarachchi as he addressed a media briefing together with the Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry Secretary and the Power and Renewable Energy Ministry Secretary.
The Water Board which presently operates 75 bowsers is expected to purchase an additional 25 to supply water to all areas.
In addition, they plan to build 480 temporary water tanks in drought stricken areas to offer relief to the people. “Only 47 percent of the people in the country have access to pipe borne water. The rest rely on private sources such as wells but during drought,wells dry up, so we will have to supply more people with water,” Hettiarachchi said.
Ensuring a continuous supply of drinking water, according to the Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Udaya Seneviratne has become the greatest challenge of the Presidential Task Force, “The water levels in the Mahaweli reservoirs are at less than 50 percent.
Only 45 percent of our total agricultural lands have been planted (35 percent of paddy and 10 percent others).
The main priority thus is to direct water for drinking, then to protect the crops that have been planted and then the remainder will be given for power supply,” Seneviratne said.
Seneviratne also pointed out that the current drought made it a necessity for climate mitigation actions to be put in place,
“Sri Lanka has signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 and thus we prepared a plan of action in 15 identified areas, along with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all areas”, explained the Mahaweli Secretary and added,
“This drought can be used as a good opportunity to introduce new water management systems, agricultural methods and technology that would use our resources wisely”.