Bhutan, a country among the Himalayan Mountains, has been making remarkable strides to provide safe drinking water for citizens. These efforts are apparent in the adoption of the Bhutan Drinking Water Quality Standard and the recent National Water Symposium.
The Bhutan Drinking Water Quality Standard was adopted in 2016 by the National Environment Commission to protect public health and improve water quality. Unclean water has been traced to numerous diseases, such as cholera, fluorosis and typhoid fever. Before the standard was adopted, water providers had no obligations to conduct water testing and treatment. This left the 745,000 Bhutanese citizens with potentially hazardous water.
According to the standards document, the objectives are:
- To set safe concentrations of nationally relevant drinking water parameters.
- To contribute towards a progressive improvement of drinking-water quality management (e.g. sampling, testing, reporting and documentation) by all service providers.
- To strengthen the application of water safety planning in all drinking-water systems.
- To contribute towards increased public awareness of drinking-water safety.
- To build a national drinking-water quality database.
- To improve accountability of all stakeholders in the provision of a safe-for-drinking water supply.
To further ensure better water quality, Bhutan hosted a National Water Symposium (NWS) on May 9, 2017. The NWS will improve water quality in Bhutan by devising a system of water management and sustainability. Organizers of the Symposium gathered 60 water sanitation professionals to decide priority focus areas for the twelfth Five Year Plan (FYP), a series of five-year economic goals.
One of these focus areas is supplying and conserving safe drinking water for families. Climate change’s effects in the region have made water conservation a significant concern. While Bhutan has one of the highest per capita water availabilities in the world, the rapidly melting glaciers and snow in the country’s often cold region pose a threat to future water availability. The Symposium will identify ways to manage and conserve natural water resources to improve water quality in Bhutan.
According to the Bhutan Times article, “National Water Symposium Brings Experts Together,” event organizer Lyoncchen Tobgay said that “managing water resources and providing continuous safe drinking water to every household is one of the flagship projects prioritized in the twelfth FYP.”
With the new standards and efforts from participating agencies from the National Water Symposium, Bhutan’s water quality should vastly improve over the next few years.
– Marie Adigwe