Talk28 Water Efficiency with respect to Industry

Thursday, 15 November, 2018


Major industrial sectors of Pakistan's are water intensive and inefficient in its water use. While industry consumes only 2-3% of fresh water resources of Pakistan, it contributes a substantial amount of the pollution load in the fresh water resources of Pakistan.

LEAD Pakistan hosted an interactive session on 'Water Efficiency with respect to industry' as part of its LEADING Perspectives series on Managing Shared Basins. The guest speaker, Mr. Azher Uddin Khan is the Managing Director of NEC Consultants and CEO of Cleaner Productions Institute (CPI). The talk focused on some successes achieved in water efficiency by four industrial sectors - textile, leather, paper, and sugar - along with the limitations faced and the recommendations to tackle them. The nexus between water and other resources' efficiency along with the relationship between untreated wastewater with fresh water contamination was extensively deliberated.

Industry Waste Water Analysis

Pakistan has a small industrial base which is expected to grow. 20% of industrial units are highly polluting, with 20 large and 80 small estates without any waste water treatment facilities. Total waste water discharge is split 70% to 30% between municipal and industrial sources, while pollution load is 50% each. Estimated wastewater discharges in the sea is 2-3 million cubic meters (MCM) per day, of which 0.50-0.75 MCM per day is from industrial sources.

Estimated inland wastewater discharges are 6-9 MCM per day, of which industrial wastewater discharges are 2-3 MCM per day. A pollutant source has the potential of polluting 20 times its volume fresh surface water resources, and the groundwater resources in several cities are already highly polluted.

The cost of treating waste water by 2020 is estimated to be around 250 billion PKR, out of which 125 billion PKR will be the cost for industrial waste. In the current situation, 10% of total river kilometers are effected by pollution, with river Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej completely contaminated. The Indus River is only mildly contaminated due to high dilution rate. Pollution lowers the capacity of a river to absorb oxygen, decreasing their dissolved oxygen levels which carries sever consequences for the biological life in those water bodies. The Rivers Water Quality Monitoring of Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Analysis of 2012 shows that several rivers, most prominently the river of Soan, showed dangerously low levels of dissolved oxygen.

Cleaner Productions Framework and Approaches

When choosing a biological treatment process it is important to answer these four fundamental questions: What to treat, where to treat, how to treat it and, finally, what to conserve. Cleaner Production is a series of environmental solutions, implemented in a logical sequence of small steps that leads to much smaller and cost effective end-of-pipe solutions. United Nations Industrial Development Organization promotes eight approaches for minimizing waste at source, five of which were covered in this talk.

Good Housekeeping - focuses on optimization of water usage and recycling by adopting better work practices such as floor washing techniques, batch washing over continuous washing for production processes etc. These measures has reduced the water consumption in the range of 30-50%.

Better Process Control - includes the modification of working procedures, machine instructions, and process record keeping.

Equipment Modification - reduction in pollution load through increasing the efficiency of the manufacturing process.

On-site Recovery and Reuse - recycling of waste materials, simultaneously reducing pollution load and generating extra revenue.

Production of useful By-products - transform the generated waste into material that can be reused for other applications outside the company.

Since water is not fully priced in Pakistan, the business case for water conservation technologies is based on savings from energy and chemical conservation which determine the payback periods of the CP technology. It implies that over use of water will lead to higher doses of chemicals to achieve the desired concentration strengths, and increased pumping will lead to higher consumption of electricity. Adopting water efficiency will lead to control the wasteful practices of chemical and energy.


There is very serious dearth of official data in this realm and the investments need to be made by the provincial environment departments to ensure that we have reliable data sets available. It is necessary for extensive research to understand the complete profile of waste water treatment needs of Pakistan, and to assess opportunities in this sector.

Cleaner Production can be best implemented via a solution development framework under which all pollution prevention options at source, and resource conservation options at the process level are investigated and implemented which have direct impact on the size and cost of the end-of-pipe treatment systems. These options offer approximately 30% reduction in the size of environmental investments, are easy to implement and are sustainable with good financial returns. The most effective solutions can be formulated with the involvement of industry technicians and management. CP options do not serve, in all cases, as replacements for end-of-pipe treatment systems. However, they do carry the potential to significantly reduce the size of end-of-pipe treatment and resource conservation.

A most essential element for the promotion and enforcement of cleaner production is providing legal cover under legislations like Pakistan Environmental Protection Act (PEPA). While there exists a National Conservation Strategy (1992) that explicitly states the need to conserve water as a resource and protect water bodies from pollution, but to date little implementation has been witnessed on this doctrine.

It is necessary to adopt a realistic, practical and holistic approach, starting from natural water resources end at the required wastewater treatment. Ambient water quality standards need to be established for natural water resources and combined wastewater treatment systems set up to achieve the set ambient standards. To offload responsibility from the municipal governments, these facilities can be outsourced to the private sector.

The federal and provincial governments also need to create provision for pollution within their jurisdictions, and levy and collect appropriate environmental charges on account of the provision of combined treatment facilities, from different categories of the polluters, connected to these facilities.