From the Ground Up: How Khulna City Shifted from Groundwater to Surface Water

Transitioning from groundwater to surface water or conjunctive use can be costly and technically complex. The Khulna Water Supply Project, co-financed by the Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, developed a new water supply system using surface water to address increasing demand, diminishing groundwater, and widespread salinity.

The project financed an entirely new system—from intake to tap—for 65% of the city’s population. The transformative changes from the project were possible with the newly established Khulna Water Supply and Sewerage Authority, only the third of its kind in the country.

Watch the video to learn more about tips and considerations for the transition of water sources from groundwater to surface water to address increasing demand and widespread salinity intrusion.


In Southwest Bangladesh, in the Ganges River Delta, Khulna is the country’s third largest city.

A new water supply system, constructed with the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is helping Khulna City build its climate resilience and water security, with lessons replicable across the region.

The Khulna Water Supply Project created an entirely new water supply system from intake to household connections, delivering treated surface water for the first time.

Before the project, Khulna City faced two major water supply challenges: unsustainable groundwater extraction, and high salinity in groundwater and surrounding rivers.

Most of the city’s population before the project shared public standpipes, hand pumps, and private tube wells.

Households, mostly women, spent an average of 90 minutes fetching water on most days.

Talukder Abdul Khaleque, Mayor, Khulna City Corporation

Since it is a saline zone, there was insufficient safe water. As a result, deep tube wells were a source of water. But people still could not get enough water.

Kajal Begum, Head of Community, Water User Group

We had to fetch water by pipes in the past, and we had to stand all day long. Pressing the tube well all day would cause body aches.

Mohamed Abdullah, Managing Director, Khulna Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (KWASA)

The water crisis was so acute that underground water was not available.

Edimon Ginting, Country Director, ADB Bangladesh Resident Mission

Water supply is the basic infrastructure to make the city livable. We continue to work on them through strengthening their water distribution systems, as well as developing a climate-resilient sanitation system.

JICA supported the development of upstream infrastructure, which included:

  • a surface water intake facility, a raw water transmission main,
  • a surface water treatment plant,
  • and an impounding reservoir to maintain low-saline levels.

ADB in turn supported downstream infrastructure such as:

  • a clear water transmission main,
  • new and rehabilitated piped networks,
  • and metered-household and community-managed connections.

Khulna City now has a reliable water source to meet current and future water demand.

Mohamed Abdullah, Managing Director, Khulna Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (KWASA)

Before implementing the project, it was about 13,000 household connections. Now, we have covered up to 40,000 thousand household connections.

From less than 20% coverage and offering only for 5.3 hours per day, KWASA now covers 65% of the city and provides water supply 24 hours a day.

6,500 low-income households headed by women were connected to the new system.

The project also introduced urban community water management.

KWASA established 250 water user groups in low-income communities to manage shared, metered connections and collect monthly water charges.

With the improved water supply, the spread of two significant and common waterborne diseases, diarrhea and dysentery - have been significantly reduced from about 16% to 6.5%.

Kajal Begum, Head of Community, Water User Group

We are now free from pressing tube wells, KWASA has made our lives easier. We have also gotten rid of various diseases by having water from KWASA.

Mohammed Sayeedul Haque, Associate Portfolio Management Officer, ADB Bangladesh Resident Mission

Innovative design and the use of modern technologies made the Khulna Water Supply Project exemplary. The Khulna Water Supply Project provides lessons on how to construct sustainable water supply intake facilities, manage salinity intrusion, and automate a water supply monitoring system.


This page was generated from /news/videos/ground-how-khulna-city-shifted-groundwater-surface-water on 06 June 2024

Source URL: