Yangon city’s water management

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Hlawgha Reservoir

By Htin Paw Win, Translated by Htut Htut (Twantay), Photo: YCDC

Although the rainy season is going on now, there is a remarkable rise in the temperature in Yangon with less rainfall. Global climate is fast changing day after day affected by the global warming. Meteorologists hope that the global temperature is likely to rise bizarrely in the future. The rising temperature will cause glaciers to melt, thereby increasing sea level. With a surge in sea water level, an increase in high tide takes place in all parts of the world as well as Myanmar.

Rainfall remains below average annual amount
There is no other season in Myanmar as long as the rainy season and Myanmar has to rely much on the monsoon to get sufficient rainwater for agriculture. It is just the beginning for Myanmar at a time when the southwest monsoon sets in. The arrival of monsoon to Myanmar this year is timed to strangely coincide with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the monsoon may early retreat as well, moreover, the rainfall may be less. Yangon has not got an equitable amount of rain because rain falls heavily in some parts but doesn’t elsewhere. The scattered rain is able to cause floods if it pours heavily. The rainfall in Taikkyi, Hmawby and Hlegu in the north part of Yangon, the place of supplying water resources remains below average annual amount. The rainwater stored in Gyobyu, Phugyi, Hlawga and Ngamoeyeik reservoirs this year remains less than the average annual amount and therefore it can cause worry about Yangon’s water supply in the coming summertime.
Increasing requirements of water resources
The number of those who are coming to Yangon for work is increasing day by day as Yangon is the nation’s commercial city. Its population is on the increase. With a rapid population growth, there has been an increase in the necessity of water resources in Yangon. The industrial zones have been enormously increasing and so the water requirement becomes a big issue. The urban area widens at the edge of it and there has been an increase in the number of high-rising buildings in Yangon.
The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) is supplying 205 million gallons of water from Gyobyu, Phugyi, Hlawga and Ngamoeyeik reservoirs and tube-wells to the towns and townships in its municipal area every day. 90 % of total gallons of water supply come over-ground while 10 % comes underground. According to the 2014 census, Yangon’s municipal area has a population of 5.16 million and about 10% is living in Yangon city.

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Gyobyu Reservoir

Difficulties may crop up
To get sufficient rainwater is the main issue for Yangon with regard to the water. The key reservoirs necessary for Yangon are located in Taikkyi, Hmawby and Hlegu, the northern part of Yangon. The records observed by meteorologists indicated that the rainfall in these areas has been found to be less. There may be difficulties in supplying water to Yangon as less rainfall has been found in the said reservoirs currently triggered by climate changes.

Rainwater becomes less in stockpile
The Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department took priority over the construction of the dams for agricultural purpose. Ngamoeyeik reservoir is among the largest water supplier to Yangon, accounting for 60 % of the entire water supply to Yangon. Ngamoeyeik reservoir supplies water not only to the Yangonties but also to the farmers to do farming by means of irrigation channels. Now the rainwater stored in the reservoirs still remains a smaller amount and so the responsible persons may find it difficult to supply drinking water and the irrigation water to the places where necessary.

Suggestions shown for changing crops
It has been suggested by the experts that the water to be used in farming should be reduced as Yangon region is in need of drinking water. The farmers in Yangon should grow the crops that need only less water in the place of summer paddy. If so, the crops must be the ones that need least water but also the ones that make profits. For that reason, the agriculturalists suggest that the farmers should substitute summer paddy with mung bean, pigeon pea and groundnut. On the other hand, the Yangonites should make good use of water in a systematic manner. The expert said “regarding the current situation that it is right that hands must be washed as part of preventive measure against Covid-19, but when one rubs hands with soap, it is required to close the tap. If not so, the water goes on dropping. It is of uselessness. This water will flow to the gutter without being used. This act is to be taken into consideration. If everyone uses water in a disciplined manner, it will be enough for them. It is supposed that the loss of water without being used is more when the water is used in a disciplined manner. It is also required to use water wisely. The people residing in the places of getting much access to water should efficiently use the water only they need so that it will be convenient for the people living in the townships of getting less access to water to use the water. For example, there is difference in having access to water between those living near the start of the water supplying pipeline and those far away from there. Only when those living near the start of the water supplying pipeline use the water in a useful manner, will the water be left for those far away from there to use. The water has to be supplied to the townships on a part-time basis and it is required to use the water in a systematic manner. Upon completion of the currently-implementing projects, the 24 hours water supplying system will come out.”

Use of water must be thrifty
This time every year the water usually exceeds the marking level in Yangon’s reservoirs, but this year the water has not reached the marking level due to the less rainfall. In spite of facing the climate changes, the first priority is to sufficiently supply water to Yangon. The YCDC is supplying water to all the townships on an hourly basis for ensuring water availability to all parts of Yangon. For that reason, the Yangonites are required not only to use the water thriftily but also to store the water when necessary.

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