The Indus Water Treaty between Pakistan and India was signed on 19 Sep 1960 whereby India shall not store any water of, or construct any storage works on, the Western Rivers ie River Chenab, Jhelum and Indus. Under Article III of the Treaty, Pakistan shall have the right to unrestricted use of the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Punjab) water. Which India is obligated to let flow and shall not permit any interference except for domestic use, non-consumption use, agricultural and generation of hydro-electric power projects which don’t involve storage of water. However, India is constructing 330 MW Kishanganga and 850 MW Ratle Hydroelectric plants on the tributaries of the Jhelum and Chenab rivers in Jammu and Kashmir, in violation of the Treaty. Water is an essential input in every business. It is mainly, but not limited to; all food items, entire textile chains, beverages, tourism, construction, gardening, fisheries, wood, paper, chemicals, petro-chemicals and other such ventures. The industrial and agricultural sectors thus compete against each other. As such it is the shared responsibility of everybody to effectively and efficiently use this essential asset. Unfortunately, as it’s free of cost, it’s overuse isn’t much thought about. The shortage of water in any area shall initially constrict economic growth and ultimately stifle every kind of economic activity, leading to internal migration of population giving rise to new kind of ‘environmental refugees’. Energy and water are interdependent and the water-energy nexus is a significant factor that cannot be ignored. Water is used extensively in power generation, the extraction, transportation and processing of fossil fuels. Similarly energy is vital to power the systems that collect, transport, distribute and treat water. According to the 1012 World Energy Outlook, in 2010, global withdrawals for energy production were estimated at 583 billion cubic meters (bcm), or some 15 per cent of the world’s total water withdrawals. Of that water consumption — the volume withdrawn but not returned to its source — was 66 bcm or about 11 percent of energy-related water withdrawals. The shortage of water in any area shall initially constrict economic growth and ultimately stifle every kind of economic activity, leading to internal migration of population giving rise to new kind of ‘environmental refugees’ About 95 percent of the water is used in agriculture. Conservation in Agriculture can be achieved by drip irrigation, capturing and storing rain-water, drought-tolerant crops and dry farming. The drip irrigation system which sends water to the root of the plant or crop should be encouraged as it has the potential to save about 80 percent of the water used in agriculture. Water could be reused in industries, municipal waste water could be recycled and reused. Grey water is usable waste water from residential, commercial and industrial buildings. This type of water after recycling can be used in various types of commercial ventures. The people also have to be educated to create an intrinsic desire to conserve water. An 18-Hole golf course in Pakistan’s climatic condition consumes about 32 acre feet per annum which is 39,471,360 Litres!!! Water lining is the most efficient method of water conservation. An economic feasibility study of canal water lining was prepared by INTECH in 2015 which estimated the cost of lining canals with geomembrane at 15,324.40 dollars per kilometre and the payback period was about 2.84 years. This sample study was done in an interfarm earthen channel in Aral Sea Basin and the canal efficiency was enhanced from 50 percent to 89 percent. The per capita availability which was 1,348 cubic metres in 1998, has already gone down to 861 cubic centimetres in 2016 thereby making Pakistan a water scarce country. By 2050, with an expected population of 371 million, Pakistan shall be facing ‘absolute scarcity’ of water, at 482 cubic metres per person The total cost of the lining all canals in Pakistan with plastic shall cost, taking INTECH study estimates, about 859 million dollars. Another study for Design and Evaluation of Dadu Canal Lining for Sustainable Water Saving with concrete lining was prepared in 2013 by Ashfaq A Memon et al which estimated the cost of lining of 33,293 Mtrs (33.293 km) to be 145,668 rupees per metre. Lining of the canal will decrease the seepage by 40 to 50 percent and conveyance efficiency shall increase by 70 to 90 percent. If the entire 56,073 kilometres of canals of Pakistan are lined with concrete, it may cost (if cost estimate of Dadu Canal is to be applied), 9.962 trillion rupees; and if INTECH price estimate are to be applied, then the total cost shall be 92 billion rupees for geomembrane lining. The geomembrane lining has successfully been in use for the last 25 years. The total length of canals in the country is stated to be 56,073 kilometres which carries an estimated 106 MAF water to the formagate. This loses about 50 percent of the water, which comes to 53 MAF. As can be seen above, there is huge difference in lining cost of geomembrane and concrete. However, the government must initiate a study as early as possible since it shall save 53 MAF which is equivalent to 4 times more than the current total reservoir capacity of 13.820 MAF of the Tarbela and Mangla dams combined. The per capita availability which was 1348 cubic metres in 1998, has already gone down to 861 cubic centimetres in 2016 thereby making Pakistan a water scarce Country. By 2050 with a expected population of 371 million, Pakistan shall be facing ‘Absolute Scarcity’ of water, at 482 cubic metres per per person. However, there is a silver lining out there. Firstly, 32 MAF which is being lost to the sea can be saved by dredging the canals and constructing water reservoirs. Secondly, by changing crop cultivation patterns, by reducing rice and sugar cultivation to meet only domestic demand and by improving irrigation system (especially the drip irrigation system) and by lining the canals, about 50 percent of the 106 MAF which is used for agriculture, can be saved amounting to 53 MAF. This 85 MAF is equivalent to 104 Bill cubic meter. Thirdly, the volume of water required to product 1 kilogram of beef is 6804 litres. The billionaire Richard Branson bets big on lab meat being produced in laboratories and has invested heavily in Memphis Meat on the belief that in 30 years or so, we will no longer need to kill any animal (and simultaneously not breed animals). Laboratory produced meat shall be plant based and much healthier. This shall save billions of litres of water. Fourthly, the Government should consider heavy cessation or excise on all companies which are selling billions of litres of water at around 40 rupees per litre but use the water free of cost. Technology gives us a way out of the upcoming water crisis if we make haste and act. The writer is a Chartered Accountant and can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, October 11th 2017.