Sri Lanka remains a country without a water development policy

A water development policy is a critical need in Sri Lanka but despite many discussions in parliament and the government, nothing has happened in formulating one, says Parliamentary Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. He made this statement while addressing the 8th International Perspective on Water Resources and the Environment (IPWE) Conference held at the Cinnamon Grand in Colombo last week. Mr. Jayasuriya said, “In March 2000 a water development policy document prepared by experts in the field was presented to the cabinet ministers. Due to heavy criticism from certain parties, it was never implemented.

Even after 15 years of debate and discussions Sri Lanka continues to remain a country without a comprehensive water policy.” This has both direct and indirect costs including economic, social and environmental costs. Due to water related issues of which some countries have already reached crisis proportion, Sri Lanka cannot continue any longer as a country without a comprehensive water policy, he noted. He also stressed that preservation of fresh water ecosystem is fundamental for sustainable development which provide services that are crucial for human survival and delivering clean water for household and agricultural purposes. They support fisheries, remove waste, replenish ground water, help prevent soil erosion and protect against floods.

This is the case of the worlds’ poor who often depend directly on water and other ecosystems provided by rivers, lakes, wet lands for their livelihood. Food production also plays a critical role which provides employment for 40 per cent of the global population. Food security for an expanding population will have to be achieved using less water resources. Plans for food production must take adequate account of water resources and must be carefully prepared to guide farmers in appropriate practices, he added.  Energy is of fundamental importance for economic and social development.Water and energy are highly interconnected. Water is essential in the production of hydro power and for water cooling in the thermal and nuclear power plants.

Conversely pumping of water from ground water sources and through pipelines uses considerable energy, emphasized Mr. Jayasuriya  IPWE Conference Chair Dr. Sharika Senarath noted that the conference is the first one in Sri Lanka in a series of international conferences organised by the Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Previous IPWE conferences have been held in New Delhi, Bangkok, Chennai, Singapore, Morocco and Turkey. The conference offers the platform for professionals to share their knowledge, network and gain insightful perspectives on environmental and water resources issues unique to the hosting country and the region, he added.  The conference covered a wide gamut of topics related to water resources engineering and the environments such as surface water hydrology, ground water hydrology, water supply and treatment, environmental hydraulics and water quality, etc.

Source: Sunday Times