With three water sources drying up, in large probability due to climate change, the residents of Motithang are facing an acute ongoing water shortage.
Although the residents of Changzamtog, Zilukha, and Jungshina also face water shortage from time to time, those living in Motithang are the hardest hit as Motithang does not have alternative water sources like the others.
Residents who are mostly tenants complain of water shortage as now being an everyday affair.
While some homes in Motithang still receive water twice a day with reduced pressure during morning and evening, some are left with no water for days.
Agay Haap Changtu who stays near Motithang High School said, “When I first came here in 2017, I don’t remember people facing water problems but this year the residents are facing water shortage from time to time. Last month we were left without water for a week and even this week we stayed without water for 4 days. It is a bit better this week.”
Another resident of Motithang, Sonam Choki who stays above double turning said, “We don’t receive water like we used to do in the past. Now we receive water only twice a day, once in the morning for an hour and then in the evening for around 2-3 hours.”
Jambay who owns a building near the Minister’s Enclave said, “Water shortage in Motithang is becoming severe day by day. With the residents demanding more water every day, I approached thromde but was told the sources are drying up.”
Residents have resorted to buying jerry cans and filling up water from neighbors or relatives in other areas. Some who did not get water for days have even resorted to eating and bathing at the houses of relatives.
Thimphu thromde said unlike past years, Motithang is facing a severe water problem. Nakphel, the head of Water Supply Division from Thimphu thromde said, “The recent shortage of water in Motithang is due to three sources drying up. Almost 16 percent of the source in Motithang has dried up. The water source at Motithang today was 7516 cubic meter down from the normal 9000 cubic meter. The lowest was in April with 7000 cubic meter.”
He said, “The three water sources of Motithang are in Phajoding, Pumla and Dramelung. The water from these sources are treated at Motithang Treatment Plant and supplied to Motithang, Zilukha, Kawajangsa and Changzamtog. While Motithang has only one water source, others have additional sources.”
“Without snowfall and little rainfall this year, the sources have dried up but with the start of the monsoon, we are expecting that the situation will Improve,” he added.
Not just residents but the hotels in this area are also facing an acute water shortage. The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bhutan has approached thromde stating that the water shortage is affecting their business with this period being the peak season for the arrival of tourists.
Nakphel said, “In order to solve the issue of water shortage in Motithang, the thromde shall find an alternative water supply. In addition, we need to educate people on how to use the water efficiently or effectively. For instance, while we drive by, we can see people washing cars and we can also see overflowing tanks. We would also like to request house owners to installing ground tanks to store water so that they can pump it up later.”
The thromde has started to develop a source from a stream above Samteling.
The thromde said that the Chubachu stream cannot be tapped as it is not fit for human consumption and would require extensive treatment.
Ironically as Motithang’s water sources dry up the much vied for area is witnessing a construction boom with many big buildings, hotels, offices and other structures coming up. This is only expected to significantly increase the demand for water in the area and make the water situation considerably worse.
Motithang is also host to the VVIPs, ministers enclave, government offices, residences of top bureaucrats among others.
It also command’s the highest real estate prices and rents in Thimphu which will all take a hit if a solution is not found.
The Thimphu thromde has so far been saying it plans to provide 24 hours drinking water in the 12th plan but it had not factored the three water sources in Motithang drying up.