The former Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee had once famously promised that once the Nu 400 mn Dodena water project is complete, Thimphu would have 24/7 drinking water available for all.
However, even after the project is complete the reality is that it is not happening.
Thimphu Thromde Engineer Penjor Drukpa, said construction of buildings has increased, making it impossible to provide water 24/7 a day.
He said that it is not that Dodena water can provide drinking water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but rather the project is to remedy the severe water shortage in Thromde.
He said, “There must be a water source to provide water 24/7, and we cannot bring water from anywhere else but Thimphu. We are getting 15 million liters a day,” he said.
He added, “If no dam is built, we won’t be able to supply water at this time. But, Dodena water has helped by supplying water for three hours, even though it’s not available 24 hours a day. We do not have 24-hour water in every part of the core region, but in comparison to before, some parts of the core area do have 24-hour drinking water.”
According to the engineer, in the areas where Dodena water is distributed, there is no shortage of drinking water. However, upper Changzamtog has a shortage, as do places in higher-elevated areas like upper Motithang where Dodena water cannot reach.
He said that people were receiving water before when there was less construction, but now that there is a lot of construction going on and thromde is unable to increase the water supply to divide among the buildings.
He added that it would be difficult to provide water 24/7, but Thromde is working to increase the water supply time target.
Owing to climate change, the water evaporates in the source during the dry season, and April is the driest month of the year.
“We’ve also looked into Pumla as a potential alternate water supply, and if the water runs out, that would be an option, but we can’t tell for sure right now,” he said.
He highlighted the key difficulties and said that, “The challenges we face are the increasing number of construction projects as the pipe is damaged when a road is being built, and we must perform extensive maintenance when digging and constructing the road. And, although we do not have experts in the water division, we are carrying out the tasks that we are familiar with.”
He added that everyone in the city needs drinking water 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but thromde is unable to provide this. However, they are working to ensure that water is made available at all times, whether early in the morning or late at night.
The Dodena project was finished on June 30, 2019, and the credit was closed.
Sonam, a resident in Babesa said “Water shortage is a common phenomenon in Thimphu. Another problem that must be tackled is the current drainage system, which is in poor condition. We would like to recommend that the new Thrompon discuss these important city issues.”
A resident in Motithang, Tshering, 30, said while much has been accomplished in the core city area, current problems, such as water scarcity, must be addressed.
“While we are grateful to the Thromde for developing water treatment plants, but there are still water shortages. The water problem must be solved first, followed by other thromde facilities. We’re hoping for better water supply from new Thromde,” she said.
Another resident in Motithang, Yeshey Choden, 31, said “For us, water shortage isn’t a new problem. It’s been a long time since we’ve dealt with it. And I’ve heard my neighbors whine about the water shortage, but they (Thromde) have been deafeningly silent”, adding that in her flat, she just gets water three times a week on a regular basis.
Thimphu Thromde started a Nu 400 million project of a 10 MLD water treatment plant at Taba as part of the Central Water Supply Scheme (CWSS), with financial assistance from the World Bank, to boost urban infrastructure service in Northern Thimphu where no formal facilities are available, and to supplement the current water supply system.
The main problem with the Dodena project is poor survey and implementation as the pipes kept bursting due to the elevation and even now there are many places from where the water leaks out requiring constant repairing for a new project.