Water quality in the Ravi and Sutlej Rivers, Pakistan: a system view

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Grigg, Nicky ORCID ID icon; Ahmad, Mobin ORCID ID icon; Imran, Saiqa; Podger, Geoff; Kirby, Mac; Colloff, Matt




As part of CSIRO Indus SDIP project in Pakistan, the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) and CSIRO collaborated on a water quality monitoring program in the Ravi and Sutlej Rivers. The results revealed the state of transboundary rivers, drains and groundwater within Pakistan over a twelve-month period from August 2015 to July 2016, finding that many water quality parameters did not meet water quality guidelines. For example, the stretch of the Ravi River passing Lahore failed to meet standards for industrial waste effluent, let alone guidelines for healthy rivers. Many previous water quality assessments have given a similar picture, from which we can infer: • The water quality situation continues to deteriorate due to industrial and municipal waste disposal and agricultural practices, and it at its worst in during dry months in the absence of diluting flows. • The lack of improvement or management actions cannot be attributed purely to a lack of past water quality monitoring data. These conclusions present a challenge: what is needed for water quality knowledge products to trigger and support more effective water quality management? This question requires us to look beyond the data to the decision-making context into which data is delivered. We provide a preliminary desktop assessment in which we sketch out the components of a wider analysis of the Ravi and Sutlej water quality situation. This initial assessment is intended only as a conversation starter, and interested parties in Pakistan are encouraged to build upon this beginning, involve other stakeholders and take this approach further in the pursuit of meaningful change for the better. It matters because poor water quality puts lives and livelihoods at risk; the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (2016) concluded that across all countries “investing in water is investing in jobs” and “water investments are a necessary enabling condition for economic growth, jobs and reducing inequalities”.



Environmental Monitoring; Natural Resource Management

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Funding Body NameProject/Grant ID
Australia. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Technical Report (Author)


Grigg, Nicky; Ahmad, Mobin; Imran, Saiqa; Podger, Geoff; Kirby, Mac; Colloff, Matt. Water quality in the Ravi and Sutlej Rivers, Pakistan: a system view. CSIRO: CSIRO; 2018. csiro:EP18122. https://doi.org/10.4225/08/5a5654a6d5826

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