|Saturday, 26 July 2003|
The northern Jaffna peninsula, which has traditionally experienced a scarcity of uncontaminated underground fresh water should consider adopting new rainwater harvesting methods to meet the increasing demand, a German expert said this week in Colombo.
"The Jaffna peninsula receives an average annual rainfall of 120 centimetres which is adequate for its population's consumption needs if this water is captured, stored and governed correctly", said Herald Kraft, a Consultant for the German Development Co-operation's (GTZ) Jaffna Rehabilitation Project. "In fact, rain water is the most uncontaminated water source in Jaffna, because there is almost no air-polluting industry on the peninsula and the main cloud masses reach Jaffna having passed over the sea", he explained.
Kraft was speaking at a seminar held at the International Water Management Institute on the potential of rain water harvesting in the Jaffna peninsula. The third of a series of seminars on the subject, it was organised by the GTZ Jaffna Rehabilitation Project, which has negated in relief and reconstruction work in Jaffna since 1996.
Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development GTZ has been involved in the rehabilitation of the peninsula's water supply system and the rebuilding of war-damaged schools and houses. Kraft, who had spent many months conducting a study on "water supply, rain water harvesting, waste water and solid waste management in the Jaffna peninsula", revealed alarming information which indicated the gravity of the groundwater situation in Jaffna and the islands.
The Jaffna topography is such, that the thin cover of soil over the groundwater table, which consists mainly of sandy soil with an infiltration capacity of 50 m/d, provides no protection against pollutants from entering the groundwater from the surface.
The limestone cover, which is widespread in the Jaffna peninsula, provides almost no purification capacity, permitting all pollutants reaching the groundwater to spread far and wide. With more and more refugees returning to their homes in Jaffna, the peninsula's population is likely to increase rapidly, putting additional pressure on this already sensitive environment.
As a means of introducing and popularising rainwater harvesting, GTZ will launch a pilot project at the Kopay Christian College. The school buildings at this college provide 1,845 square metres of roof surface and will be connected to a system of 600 cubic metres. It is estimated that this collection will be sufficient to provide drinking water to the students and teachers of the college 365 days a year.
Produced by Lake House