PepsiCo and WWF join hands to replenish ground water resources

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) PepsiCo in partnership with WWF has launched the ‘Community Water Stewardship: Replenishing Groundwater Resources in Lahore’ project. Some of the key focus areas of the project are: Recharge Wells, Rainwater Harvesting Systems water systems and Floating Treatment Wetlands. These interventions are being installed in the PepsiCo’s Snacks Plant watershed in the Sundar Industrial Estate, with a focus on both urban housing schemes and rural settings. The project is being implemented with the endorsement of key government institutions; Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) and Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR).

One of the key locations for the project is Manak Village comprising of about 700-800 households. Manak village is experiencing a sinking water table and deteriorating water quality due to over abstraction and inundated sewage water. In the pilot phase of the project, two ‘Rainwater Harvesting Systems’ have been installed to offset the use of groundwater during the rainy season these are in addition to two’ Floating Treatment Wetlands’ which will improve the water quality in wetlands adjacent to the village, making it safe for agricultural use and aquaculture. These interventions have been designed to replenish 10 million liters of water annually which will be scaled up to 27 million liters by 2021. The scaling up phase will include the installation of more than 50 Rainwater harvesting systems in Manak and nearby villages.

A local fisherman at Manak Village, who has been rearing fish in the village wetlands, appreciated the installation of ‘floating Treatment Wetlands’ at the village ponds, ‘The ‘Floating Treatment Wetland’ with its ability to purify water will improve the water quality in the ponds resulting in higher fish yields’. The villagers have also started benefiting from the Rainwater harvesting systems by utilizing the stored rainwater for non-potable uses, during power outages.

Mr. Furqan Ahmed Syed, CEO PepsiCo Pakistan and Afghanistan said, ’Long term sustainable use of water is critical to the continuity of our business, our license to operate, and the health of our communities. Our water replenishment efforts are focused towards the same watershed where the extraction has occurred. The partnership with WWF is another step forward towards achieving this goal.’

‘’Recognizing the surge of urbanization in the city of Lahore, groundwater levels are falling at an alarming rate of 2.5 to 3 feet per year*.  Considering the city is blessed with a decent amount of rainfall, averaging 600 mm per year*, the idea of replenishing a proportion of this rainwater is not only an eco-friendly solution to our depleting groundwater challenges, but also a necessary step to promote community-based water stewardship. Our engagement with PepsiCo. is a pragmatic step in setting good practices around groundwater replenishment and contributes towards a sustainable water balance for Lahore,” stated Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan. (Situational Analysis of the water resources of Lahore, Establishing a case for Water Stewardship, WWF Pakistan, 2014).

The project has a keen focus on community sensitization about the need to conserve and improve their groundwater quality by adopting best practices and reducing their water footprint. Going forward, phase II of the project will see an expansion of the four interventions in Bhai Kot village and Sundar Industrial Estate.

PepsiCo’s water strategy is designed to enable long-term, sustainable water security for its business and for local communities that depend on an accessible and reliable supply of clean, safe water.

In 2019, PepsiCo replenished over 1.6 billion liters of water in various high water risk sites globally. The company’s water use efficiency has improved by 45% percent in Pakistan since 2015. PepsiCo has committed to adopting the Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard as its vehicle for water advocacy in high water-risk areas by 2025. “