EFL initiated a water policy dialogue for industrial stakeholders, with the objective of identifying key loopholes and deficiencies in existing mechanisms for curtailing water pollution by industries and making recommendations for amendments to existing laws, regulations and procedures at a policy level to ensure stringent, proactive systems of evaluating, monitoring and implementation. The dialogue aimed to encourage the active engagement of industries as stakeholders willing to adopt voluntary standards and preventive measures to protect and conserve the environment.
Recommendations from the policy dialogue were compiled and detailed suggestions and improvements that could be made under the thematic areas of industrial siting, effective compliance monitoring, pollution load based standards, establishment of common wastewater treatment plants, hazardous waste management, water audits and industrial accountability. The establishment of a multi stakeholder committee chaired by the Director General of the CEA to implement effective enforcement of standards and regulations was also a key suggestion made to ensure the long term sustainability to these recommendations.
To mark the conclusion of the Water Policy Dialogue, EFL focused on creating awareness of the recommendations of the dialogue, circulating it among the media and organizing a boat trip along the Kelani River for journalists to experience the degradation and decline of the river. During the boat ride we were able to observe the extent of pollution first hand, witnessing the dumping of waste from markets at the river mouth and a wastewater line in Welivita, Welipara discharging chemical and oil waste which caused a visible change in the river’s colour.
Considering that the Kelani River is used for domestic and agricultural proposes by those who live near its bank and is one of the sources of drinking water supplies to Greater Colombo, it is essential that pollution is curtailed and water quality restored. Working with the CEA to ensure the incorporation of the recommendations of the Water Policy Dialogue to existing mechanisms, EFL hopes that these measures will prevent pollution disasters like the Coca Cola spill from occurring in the future.