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Newsletter and Technical Publications

<Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augumentation
in Some Countries in Asia>

5.3 Nepal

Although Nepal has one of the world's largest per capita water resources, most of the population does not have easy access to safe drinking water and, at times, there are acute shortages of water for all economic purposes. Urban settlements are mostly affected by the shortage of water whereas, in the rural areas, the problem is linked to lack of accessibility of water. The main sources of water in the country are rivers and springs in the hilly regions, and shallow and deep groundwaters in the Terai. Due to the shortage of water from the municipal supplies in the urban settlements, primarily in the Kathmandu Valley, there is a trend toward illegal extraction of underground water using shallow and deep wells, thereby lowering the water table and leading to the possibility of land subsidence and foreseeable tectonic effects. Associated problems are the decline in the yield and productivity of wells and the increasing incremental cost of lifting water from ever-increasing depths. For these reasons, Nepal has identified freshwater augmentation technologies to protect both water quantity and water quality to the extent possible.

Alternative technologies include the use of traditional technologies such as stone spouts and Pokharis, which were the only sources of water in the Kathmandu Valley in the past. However, there is a need to conserve and restore the ponds, aquifers, wells and stone spouts which have been neglected. Conservation and restoration of stone spouts and Pokharis is related to spring development and protection. Spring protection technologies are widely used in the central and eastern hills of Nepal. These are simple and ideal technologies for use where yield of the source is very low and water is drawn at the source itself. Likewise, rainwater harvesting has been popular where there are neither springs nor streams nearby to fulfill the water demand of the community.

Various distribution systems have also been developed in Nepal based upon traditional technologies. For example, bamboo piped water supply systems are not very common, but may prove an ideal system for remote areas where GI and HDPE pipes and fittings are not available and only bamboo is easily available and cheap. Use is also being made of hydraulic rams to pump water using the hydraulic power of the water itself, thus eliminating the need for diesel or electrical power to drive water pumps. The principle advantages of this system are its simplicity and lack of an energy cost in the operation of the system. This system is suitable in places where there is plenty of water, and the area to be supplied is situated at a lower level than the source area.

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