Urban Drought pp 329-345 | Cite as

Preparing for the Future: Challenges in Water Management in Colombo, Sri Lanka

  • Deepthi WickramasingheEmail author
Part of the Disaster Risk Reduction book series (DRR)


Water has become one of the key natural resources which are highly vulnerable to degradation in both quality and quantity under the circumstances of urban expansion and population explosion observed in major cities. Thus, adequate water management measures are considered as essential components in attaining sustainable development. The city of Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, is increasingly experiencing a water crisis as a result of a rapidly growing demand that has outstripped existing resources. Two major sources of water are used to meet the needs of water supply to the city: rivers and reservoirs. Numerous factors could be held responsible for water shortages which appear from time to time, and the results are obvious: absence of or mostly, insufficient water in need. This paper highlights the issues in continuous water supply to Colombo with a special emphasis on current threat factors including pollution by domestic sewage, municipal wastewater and industrial effluents as well as salinity intrusion in Kelani River and other water sources. Potential effects of climate change could pose on water supply and are also discussed. Finally, it examines the available options in enhancing water security such as water conservation and proper planning for a sustainable water future.


Water supply Shortage Drought Urban environment 



The author wishes to acknowledge the support extended by Ms. Ushawarnie Mendis, Waruni Perera and Nalaka Madusanka in editorial support, Eranjnaja Wickramsinghe for comments, Water Specialists Eng. DS Jayasiriwardena, Eng. Badra Kamaladasa and Eng. Danesh Gunathillake for valuable insights.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Environment SciencesUniversity of ColomboColombo 03Sri Lanka

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