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Residents worry about unsafe drinking water 

… dzongkhag says the problem will be addressed soon

Neten Dorji

Trashigang— While access to water supply has significantly improved in Trashigang town in recent years, its quality remains a big challenge, according to residents. 

The problem of poor quality drinking water is not new for them. Some 390 households in the town and Melphey area in Trashigang drink from the same source. 

Hoteliers and restaurateurs said that it was difficult to run a business when they got dirty water. 

A restaurant owner, Deki, said she has no option but to drink dirty water. She said that the drinking water supply from the water treatment plant is unfit for consumption.

“We collect tap water in a bucket and wait for the dirt to settle before we can use it,” said Deki. “We can’t use the water directly from the tap. The water is so murky.” 

Residents said that they have been consuming untreated water for many years now. They had been fetching the drinking water from a water source on the way to the hospital and they had to manage water for cleaning from another source.

“Although there is a water treatment plant for the town, we do not feel safe using its water during monsoon,” said a resident, Kinzang Dema. “Most people drink mineral water because there isn’t a clean drinking water supply.”

Another resident raised similar concerns, saying that their drinking water is most of the time murky, mixed with mud. “If this continues there could be serious health problems. We’re really worried and sad.”

A businessman said the problem was not new and that it has been there for a few years now. 

One of the reasons, he said, was that the source gets blocked because of mud and debris. “The water also becomes muddy due to landslides. When landslides occur along the area, pipes get damaged.”

A civil servant said that understanding the importance of having safe drinking water is crucial.“The relevant authority needs to take necessary measures to improve the water quality and test if it is safe for consumption.”

Water from the two sources-Rangshikhar and Phobla, is collected at the raw water tank which has a capacity of 250 kilolitres. The raw water is then pumped into the filtration tanks where the treatment processes such as flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection should take place. 

However, the dzongkhag municipality is not using the filtering tank, claiming that it is necessary to backwash the filter repeatedly within an hour, and when they do, the supply of clean water is insufficient to distribute among the public.

Dzongkhag officials said that the municipality is trying their best to provide clean water. They said that due to recent flooding at the source, the pipelines have suffered major damage.

“Dzongkhag staff have to replace it with a whole set of new pipes,” an official said. “When we asked for labour contribution from the community, no one turned up.”

He said the dzongkhag administration is planning to connect water from the Godi stream source which is located under Samkhar Community Forest. 

“Once the water source is connected from the main source, the problem of contaminated water will be solved,” he said.