Apocalypse Now

Bad governance and development shortcomings in Karachi have created vulnerabilities
at different scales that are likely to exacerbate the impacts of climate change.

By Adeel Ahmed | October 2020

In August when torrential rains flooded Karachi and other cities in Pakistan, Melbourne and parts of Victoria in Australia were also smashed by powerful storms and gusts of up to 158 km, causing widespread damage. Three people died because of falling trees and countless homes were left without power. Victoria SES (State Emergency Service) received thousands of calls for help. While living close to Melbourne in Australia, as a Karachite, I was more concerned about my city and was trying to monitor the flood-like situation that wrought havoc and destroyed life in Karachi. Most of my family live in Karachi and because of the flash-flooding, I was worried about their health and safety.

While watching the rain situation in Karachi on TV, I received a SMS from the water company responsible for supplying clean water to Melbourne and its outskirts. The message said the storm had disturbed the power supply to the water treatment plant and, as a result of the power outage, undisinfected water had entered the water supply. They asked us to boil the water before using it for drinking, food preparation or other purposes.

My wife followed the advice and started to bring tap water to a rolling boil before use. But I didn’t like the taste of boiled water; it seemed that the water had absorbed the aroma of the boiling container. I filled a glass with tap water and noticed that the water was not murky but rather sparkling like a mirror. I sipped the tap water and felt that the taste of tap water was better than the boiled water. I started to use tap water for drinking but my wife preferred to consume boiled water for the kids and cooking purposes. After a day or two, I received another message from the water supply company, informing me that power supply had been restored and, after water quality testing, the water boiling advisory had been lifted and it was safe to use tap water. With a polite smile I ignored the message.

Again, after a few days, I received an email from the water supply company, expressing profound regret over the inconvenience caused by the power outage due to the storm. The company further requested that during the advisory period if costumers had purchased bottled water, they were to contact the water company for a refund.

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