Pakistan is on the verge of a mass drought, and will run out of water by the year 2025, as per a report released by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR). Another damning report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has placed Pakistan on the third place in a list of countries facing a severe water shortage. According to the National Assembly Committee on Climate Change, the per capita availability of water has gone down to only 865 cubic meters, and recently the World Bank’s dismissal of Pakistan’s claims over the Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant created by India have further exacerbated problems. The people are angry that no solutions were presented before, and water scarcity in the country was allowed to reach such dire levels. The subsequent governments failed to do anything to curb this unmitigated disaster. The relevant authorities in charge of our water resources have remained relatively dead since the Tarbela Dam project over 48 years ago. At the time of the Indus Water Treaty, it was predicted that Pakistan would need to make one dam a year in order to tackle its water problem. However, we have not even come close to achieving that aim, and today we save only 10 percent of our water, when compared to the standard 40 percent for most countries around the world. A UN-led ‘Save water, save Pakistan’ forum in 2012 proposed the immediate construction of Munda Dam, Akhori Dam, Kurram Tangi Dam and Kalabagh Dam. However, Kalabagh Dam (KBD) has been subject to intense debate ever since it was first proposed. The dam has a lot of advantages, specifically due to its location, as well as its capacity to store over 6.5 million-acre feet (MAF) of water and generate 3600 megawatts (MW) of electricity. However, the debate has become politicised, with individuals opposing it for their own personal gain, rather than presenting adequate arguments against its construction. The government and the chairman of WAPDA have constantly stated that no decision on KBD can be taken unless there is consensus between the different provinces, yet this should not stop them from exploring alternate solutions. If they keep waiting for the provincial governments to compromise on KBD, then our water problems and India’s control over our water supply will continue unabated. Water scarcity is fast becoming the biggest problem Pakistan is facing today, and it is an issue that needs the complete attention of the state. As far as alternates go, the Akhori Dam is the preferred option. It has a gross storage limit of 7.6 MAF and will cost $4.4 billion, which is about $1.5 billion less than KBD’s estimated cost of construction. The Skardu/Katzarah Dam also promises to be a viable solution, with a capacity of 27 MAF and the ability to generate 15,000 MW of electricity; however, its best feature is its projected lifespan of over a thousand years. The only drawback to this dam is its estimated cost, which is approximately around $15 Billion, and the project is currently slated for a preliminary study from WAPDA by 2025. While megadams were common in the past, countries have now been turning to smaller dams to fulfil their needs. China recently proposed 40 new environment-friendly small gravity dams. Although their price tag will be almost twice the amount KBD would cost, their capacity for electricity generation will be 14 times more.The recent construction of one such dam at Chashma should be monitored in order to gauge the effectiveness of these dams. A decrease in the gross storage capacity is commonly a result of the accumulation of sediment particles in the reservoir. The storage capacity of both Tarbela and Mangla dams is estimated to shrink 33 percent by 2020 due to continuous sedimentation. The storage capacity of Tarbela dam has dropped to about 6.6 MAF, with Mangla performing similarly. As per the UNDP, if a dam were to be built upstream or downstream from Tarbela, this accumulation of sediments can be avoided, which is why the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council recently approved the construction of Bhasha Dam. Water scarcity is fast becoming the biggest problem Pakistan is facing today, and it is an issue that needs the complete attention of the state. If the authorities in charge want to avoid seeing the whole country turn in to a large desert, it is time they put their petty differences aside, and find viable solutions for the future progress of the nation. The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, June 27th 2018.