Water Resources Of Pakistan

Written by Waseem Raza

Water resources of pakistan: Water is one of the basic necessities of life. All living things require water to grow and reproduce. 97% of the water on the Earth is salt water and only three percent is fresh water. Ocean carries a great percentage of the world’s water. The remaining amount is contained by rivers, lakes, ponds and ditches. God has gifted Pakistan with abundant water resources. Water is required for drinking, domestic, irrigation and industrial uses. Agriculture sector is also the major user of water and its consumption will continue to dominate water requirement. Big dams are the main source of hydropower for industrial development. There are two types of major water resources in Pakistan, natural and artificial. Natural resources include rainfall, rivers, glaciers, ponds, lakes, streams etc.

Artificial resources consist of the surface water from rainfall and rivers are stored in dams and reservoirs. The water from these dams and reservoirs is not only used for irrigation and supplying water for daily consumption but also used for hydroelectric power generation. Sources of water are:


There are two major sources of rainfall in Pakistan i.e. the Monsoons and the Western Disturbances. The rainfall varies as we move from the north and northeast to the south of the country. Rainfall over fields and forest are absorbed by the soil and thus the soil water is used for the cultivation of different crops. Northern areas of Punjab Pakistan appreciable amounts of rainfall in summer as Compared & Southern parte.

The Indus Water Treaty

Before the independence of Pakistan, most of the canals are belong to India. As a result of partition the head-works of these canals remained the part of India and their drained areas became part of Pakistan. In September 1960, an agreement was signed which named as the Indus water treaty. Under this agreement Pakistan has rights over the three western rivers i.e. the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab and India has right on three eastern rivers i.e. the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. During this period India agree to continue supplying water to Pakistan. After this Pakistan construct different dams and barrages. The estimated cost of two dams, barrages and canals was about one billion dollars. The amount was arranged by the World Bank.


Glaciers are a large body of ice which holds most of the Earth’s fresh water resources. When global warming is on rise the life of these glaciers is not indefinite. The glacier area of Pakistan is about 13,680 sq km. There are more glaciers in Pakistan than any other land, except North and South Poles. Pakistan’s Glaciers Systems consists of numerous large and small size glaciers, found in the northern mountain ranges of Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindukush.

The water of these glaciers is a lifeline for the people and economy of Pakistan. Country is heavily depending on regular discharge of these waters for large scale agriculture, industrial and domestic use. Without these glaciers, Pakistan would be a barren place to support its large population base. Siachen, Batura and Hispar are Karakorum Glacier while Chianter and Tirich Mir are glaciers at Hindukush.


Rainfall taking place over hilly and plain areas are form streams and rivers. Pakistan has been blessed with a number of rivers. Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej are the rivers which join the Indus River from eastern side and number of small rivers which join Indus River from the west side.


The historical background of dams in Pakistan is relatively short. At the time of independence, there were only three dams in Pakistan. The two dams which are built as a part of Indus water Treaty were at Tarbela and Mangla. The project of dams is designed to store large quantity of water in order to generate electricity. The Mangla Dam is located on the Jhelum and it has storage capacity of 7.4 million acre-feet and generated 1,000 megawatts of electricity. It supplies water to canals that irrigated the mostly Doabs.

Tarbela Dam

Tarbela dam is the largest water reservoir of Pakistan located in KPK on Indus River with 11.0 million acre-feet water storage capacity and 3,478 megawatts electricity generating capacity.

water resources of pakistan


Barrages are usually larger than the head works of irrigation and link canals, a barrage is a diversion of the dam that consists of a number of large gates that can be opened or closed to control the amount of water passing through them, and thus regulate and stabilize river water upstream for use in irrigation and other systems. A barrage is built for diverting water, and raises the water level only a few feet; they are generally built on the flat areas across meandering rivers. Chashma Barrage, Guddu Barrage, Sukkur Barrage, Taunsa Barrage etc. are the barrages of Pakistan.

Important barrages of Pakistan

water resources of pakistan


Canal which brings river water close to the field where it is required? These canals come out of rivers, dams, and barrages. The irrigation system of Pakistan is one of the best in the world due to the largest irrigation system in the world. Canal System of Pakistan consist of three main important types of canals: Perennial Canals, Non-Perennial Canals and Inundation Canals. Perennial canals are the canals that are used to supply water to the field and these are taken either from dams or barrages and these includes Lower and upper Bari Doab, Lower & Upper Chenab canal and Sidhnai.

Non-perennial canals include Sutlej, Sidhnai (from Ravi) and Haveli (from Chenab) canals. The Inundation canal is taken from the rivers when there is a rise in the water level due to flood and includes canals of Chenab and Indus river. 45 canals have been taken from rivers, dams and barrages to provide water to the fields.

Groundwater in Pakistan

Another important source of water is groundwater which consists of 99 percent of fresh water and is easily accessible for the world. In Pakistan the volume of ground water is immeasurable. The water is used for irrigation purposes and pumped through tube wells. The irrigation of land has been started though tube wells in early sixties. For the Indus Basin Irrigation System 500,000 tube wells has been installed. Read more

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