Government, ADB Meet Bidders to Develop Surface Water Supply System

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – Officials from the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) today met with international and local prospective bidders to discuss plans for an ADB-funded project to develop a surface water supply system for the fast-growing capital city of Dhaka, where groundwater is depleting rapidly. About 50 representatives from 25 firms participated in the event.

DWASA organized a visit to the project site, including the intake location at Meghna River at Bishnondi, the water treatment plant at Gandharbpur, and the existing Saidabad water treatment plant on 14 March.

ADB approved $250 million in concessional loans for the Dhaka Environmentally Sustainable Water Supply Project in October 2013.

Taqsem A. Khan, Managing Director of DWASA, welcomed the participants, telling them that DWASA plans to reduce the dependence on groundwater to 30% of the total water supply by 2021, from the current 78%, to ensure environmentally sustainable water supply. The participants were informed about the largest bid package under the project, which entails design, construction, and operation of the water intake, raw water transmission pipeline, and water treatment plant. The bidding process is expected to start in April.

The project will help expand the coverage and quality of water supply to nearly 11 million people in Dhaka by developing a new raw water intake at the Meghna River, about 22 kilometers east of the city, with a pumping station that has the capacity to provide 2 billion liters of water a day.

The ADB project will also fund a treatment plant at Gandharbpur capable of handling 500 million liters a day, and install raw and treated water transmission pipelines. These initiatives are expected to reduce groundwater extraction by 150 million liters a day and help the city water authority raise its overall surface water supply to 1.9 billion liters a day by 2021.

The project will cost nearly $675 million. On top of its loan, ADB will also partially administer a $100 million loan from Agence Française de Développement. The European Investment Bank is also providing a cofinancing loan of $100 million while the Government of Bangladesh will provide almost $225 million.

Dhaka has been drawing heavily on groundwater but the current rate of extraction is no longer sustainable with the water table falling by 2-3 meters a year. In addition, the Sitalakhya River – the city’s main source of surface water – is becoming increasingly polluted.

Most people living in informal settlements rely on supply from illegal water lines for which they pay high charges. The project will set up community-based organizations to help poor households obtain water through legal metered connections at a lower price. The groups will be responsible for paying water bills and maintaining supply points while public awareness programs will improve community knowledge on water quality and public hygiene.