The country's second-largest city – Chattogram – is all set to launch a new water treatment plant with a capacity of supplying 14.3 crore litres of water per day.
The Chattogram Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Chattogram Wasa) expects an end to the water crisis plaguing the city with the addition of the Sheikh Hasina Water Treatment Plant-2 on Wednesday.
"The plant is a gift from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the city dwellers on the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman," said AKM Fazlullah, managing director of Chattogram Wasa.
"We hope there will be no water crisis in the city, at least until 2030," he told The Business Standard.
Currently, the city, home to some 70 lakh people, needs 50 crore litres of water a day, while the Chattogram Wasa has been supplying 42 crore litres per day.
The new treatment plant would enable the authorities to supply 56.3 crore litres of water per day, meeting the demand while also having an excess in supply.
"We already started a trial run of the plant in February last year  and have been supplying water to a few areas," said Maksud Alam, director of the plant construction project. "We substantially minimised the water crisis during the trial period."
Maksud Alam, also the chief engineer at the Chattogram Wasa, told The Business Standard that the inauguration programme of the plant is scheduled to be held at the Hotel Radisson Chattogram Blu Bay View in the city on Wednesday morning.
Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Minister Md Tajul Islam and the ministry's secretary Md Helal Uddin Ahmed are expected to be present in person while PM Hasina is expected to join the event virtually.
The construction of the plant in the Safarvata area of Rangunia upazila commenced in 2016 with the aim of purifying water from Karnaphuli River and supplying it to Chattogram city. A reservoir at Nasirabad and an elevated tank in Halishahar were built under the project. Besides, new transmission and convenience lines were installed and the old ones replaced.
The initial plan was to launch the plant in June 2020. However, the departure of foreign experts and workers during the pandemic slowed down the construction work.
The total cost of the project was Tk4,491 crore. Of this, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) provided Tk3,623 crore, the government Tk844 crore and the Chattogram Wasa Tk23 crore.
Currently, the Chattogram Wasa supplies nine crore litres of water from the Sheikh Russel Water Treatment Plant, nine crore from the Mohra Water Treatment Plant, and 14.3 crore from the Sheikh Hasina Water Treatment Plant-1. Besides the Ground Water Treatment Plant and 44 deep tube-wells in the city under the agency have a capacity of supplying 10 crore litres of water.
Under-construction Vandaljuri plant for water supply to industries
The Chattogram Wasa is setting up another water treatment plant at Vandarjuri to ensure freshwater supply, particularly for industries in Boalkhali, Patiya, Karnaphuli and Anwara upazilas. The plant with a capacity of supplying six crore litres of water a day is expected to be launched at the end of this year.
"The project was taken to ensure water in other upazilas of Chattogram which accommodate a good number of industries. It would cut the use of groundwater there and ensure freshwater for local people," Maksud Alam said, adding that biodiversity would be protected, as well.
Meanwhile, the water supplying agency will also go for automation soon, according to its officials.
In a pilot project, some 3,000 pure ultrasonic digital metres would be installed at households in June this year, which may help reduce the around 25-30% system loss.
"If the project becomes a success, the system loss would be reduced and the revenue of Wasa would be increased," Maksud Alam said.