Water runs dry

August 16, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, August 16 – The City may have water only up to March next year if the expected October short rains fail.

While on a tour of the Ndakaini dam, which is Nairobi’s main water source, Water Minister Charity Ngilu noted that the rewww.capitalfm.co.keir was losing four centimeters of the liquid everyday.

“The water levels are coming down and we have just decided that we are going to have another dam which will cost us close to Sh4 billion to ensure that we have more water,” she stated. 

The dam is currently holding 49 million cubic metres of water of which only 42 million cubic metres can be used.

“The remaining 7 million cubic metres is called dead storage which means we can’t go below that,” the Minister explained.

On full capacity, the dam holds about 70 million cubic metres of water.

The dam that only used to provide water for Nairobi during emergencies has been in use since October last year to supplement water from River Chania, which began drying out.

“When there are enough rains, river Chania provides up to 100 percent of water to Nairobi residents but it is now providing only 60 percent of the demand,” noted an engineer at the site.

Currently, the daily demand of water by Nairobi residents is 540,000 cubic metres and is expected to increase to 800,000 cubic metres everyday by 2020 according to Chief Executive Officer of Athi Water Services Board, Lawrence Mwangi.

The minister said if the short rains failed, they would explore alternative sources of water like ground water to reduce the impact.

The PS on the other hand said the Ministry would revive water projects that have not been functioning, to minimize rationing.

“And once those sources are brought into production, it will be possible to supply those people in those areas who are now sharing with Nairobi, water from their own source.”

“And once we do that we should be able to reduce the problems of rationing in Nairobi and also reduce the speed at which the dam is being run down.”

Also the Water Minister announced that water tariffs would soon be adjusted upwards.

Ngilu said the last adjustment was made in 1996.

“And you can imagine since that time, electricity has gone up, petrol has gone up four or five time, chemicals, salaries, only water has not gone up, so we have to do the same.”

Meanwhile, the Nairobi Water Company has warned that over 90 percent of bottled water is not from minerals as labeled.

Chief Executive Officer Francis Mugo said Friday that most of the bottled water is tapped from their pipes, illegally, and revealed that arrests had been made in Eastleigh, Kariobangi and Industrial Area.

“They then come and tell you the water from the tap is bad but the one in the bottle is good, yet they have just bottled it directly from the tap,” he cautioned.

“Some of them do what we call reverse osmosis to remove the chlorine and whatever we use to treat the water.”

At the same time, Water Permanent Secretary David Stower said the government was in the process of formulating a policy on water bottling to avoid exploitation of consumers by unscrupulous people.

“The bottled water industry has operated for a long time without proper regulations and what the ministry is considering is to take steps to bring that industry to some clearly well defined rules and regulations so that it is able to serve the public like any other industry,” he said.


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