Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena emphasized the importance of harvesting rainwater to preserve water resources for future generations. Speaking at the World Water Day celebrations organized by the Lanka Rain Water Harvesting Forum (LRWHF) at the Water’s Edge at Battaramulla, he pointed out the Rainwater Harvesting Policy adopted by government of Sri Lanka in 2005, when he was the Minister of Water and Drainage was aimed at encouraging communities to preserve water near its source by harvesting rainwater.
“There is much to be done to conserve and preserve the 65% of the rainwater which our island receive flowing as run off to the sea through our 106 rivers flowing from our central hills in Sri Lanka. Our industries, plantations sector are high end industrial users of water, treated water supplied by the NWS&DB is provided at a significantly high cost of energy and treatment. This high water cost can be reduced by supplementing with rainwater” he said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that rainwater harvesting practiced in Sri Lanka for many centuries, “let not single drop of water that fall from the skies flows to the sea without it being used for the benefit of man” proclaimed by late King Parakarambahu the Great, stand testimony to the commitment of our ancient leader to preserve rainwater. Rainwater harvesting is not a rocket science, it is very simple & practical technology which can be adopted by everyone, he said.
He commended the plantation industry, especially the Elpitiya Plantations for the excellent work done in using rain water. Harvesting rainwater at the catchment level, in soils, vegetation, and reservoirs, offers a means of addressing domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecosystem water needs, while promoting sustainable resource management practices.
Premier Gunawadena stressed the need to enhance global partnerships to mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resource to support achieving Sustainable Development Goals through rain water harvesting in all countries, especially nations with water stresses. Quoting from The Guardian of UK, which published an article on the eve of the UN Water Summit, which is taking place now, he said that the experts are predicting global fresh water demand will outstrip supply by 40% by 2030, the world is facing an imminent water crisis.
Water is inextricably linked to the three pillars of sustainable development, and it integrates social, cultural, economic and political values. It is also crosscutting and supports the achievement of many Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) through close linkages with climate, energy, cities, the environment, food security, poverty, gender equality and health, amongst others, the Prime Minister said and added that with Climate Change profoundly affecting our economies, societies and environment, water is indeed the major resources for any country to achieve the internationally accepted water-related goals and targets, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Prime Minister Gunawardena thanked the US Ambassador Julie Chung, who participated in the event, for the USAID assistance provided to rainwater harvesting programmes in Sri Lanka for the last 10 years.
Minister of State Jeevan Thondaman, US Ambassador Julie Chung, LRWHF Chairman M M M Aheeyar, CEO Dr Tanuja Ariyananda and Senior General Manager of Elpitiya Plantations M I Izzadeen and other officials were present on this occasion.