The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a 250 million U.S. dollar loan for a project to expand the coverage and quality of water supplies to nearly 11 million people in Dhaka, Bangladesh's fast-growing capital city, said the Manila-based lender Wednesday.
It said the Dhaka Environmentally Sustainable Water Supply Project will develop a new raw water intake at the Meghna River, about 30 kilometers east of the city, with a pumping station that has the capacity to provide 2 billion liters of water a day.
"The city is struggling to meet the water needs of its booming population, and, more worryingly, its groundwater is rapidly depleting," said Norio Saito, principal urban development specialist with ADB's South Asia Department.
"This assistance will allow Dhaka's water authority to improve facilities and tap a new water source to take pressure off existing supplies," he said in a statement.
According to the ADB statement, Dhaka has been drawing heavily on groundwater but the current rate of extraction is no longer sustainable with the water table falling by 2-3 meters a year.
In addition, the Sitalakhya River, the city's main source of surface water, is becoming increasingly polluted, it said.
ADB will also fund a treatment plant at Gandharbpur capable of handling 500 million liters a day, and install raw and treated water transmission pipelines, said the statement.
These initiatives are expected to reduce groundwater extraction by 150 million liters a day and help the city water authority raise its overall surface water supplies to 1.9 billion liters a day by 2021, it added.
ADB says the goal is to provide twenty-four-hour water supply to all connected households in the six service zones of the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority and reduce the dependence on groundwater to 30 percent of total water supply from 100 percent in most of the zones now.
Most people living in informal settlements rely on supplies from illegal water lines for which they pay high charges. Community-based organizations will be set up to help poor households obtain water through legal metered connections at a lower price, it said.
The groups will be responsible for paying water bills and maintaining supply points while public awareness programs will improve community knowledge on water quality and public hygiene, said the ADB statement.
It said the project will cost nearly 675 million U.S. dollars with ADB's loan coming from its concessional Asian Development Fund.
The project is expected to be completed by December 2019.