Extra dams solution for Nairobi, say experts

July 23, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 23 -Water sector experts have said that the solution to the water crisis in Nairobi lies in the creation of two more dams, which would cover the deficit of demand.

Athi Water Services Board Chief Manager – Infrastructure Development, John Muiruri said on Thursday that construction of the dams would ensure an extra 300,000 cubic metres of water were produced everyday.

“If we are able to develop those two dams, we can assure the residents of Nairobi that we are going to manage the water supply up to 2025 with or without rains,” Engineer Muiruri said.

“Unfortunately for us to develop these two infrastructure, we require financial resources amounting to Sh40 billion, yet our annual budget from the government is Sh3 billion.”

The water expert said a study done by the World Bank in 1998 showed the creation of more dams was the only viable solution.

“That time it was envisaged that they would be implemented in series. The first dam was Ndakaini which is the biggest source of water for Nairobi residents and immediately after that we were supposed to start developing other dams,” he said.

“But that programme was not done because the period between 1998 and 2004, we didn’t have the good will from the donors and therefore there was delayed investment.”

Currently Nairobi relies on three sources – Sasumua, Ndakaini and Ruiru dams for water. However they were now producing half their capacity due to the acute drought.

Engineer Muiruri said the Capital City required 650 million litres of water everyday without rationing.

“Even when there is no drought we are still not able to go beyond 400,000 cubic metres per day,” he said.

He said they were now mobilising resources from the private sector to have the dams constructed.

“We are going to approach private sector groups and tell people who want to invest in the water sector to do so. They can come in as investment groups to develop this bulk water supply for Nairobi,” he stated.

He added that at least 40 percent of water metres in Nairobi were tampered with and did not give accurate readings. Engineer Muiruri said this had led to a lot of people using water that they were not paying for.

Speaking when he received a donation of 200 water metres from Davis and Shirtliff, he said metering still remained a challenge especially in informal settlements.

“It is a challenge to balance between saying that you have to disconnect because people are not paying and exposing the majority of our people to outbreak of diseases,” he said.

Davis and Shirtliff Managing Director David Gatende said the new metres valued at Sh0.5 million would reduce theft and alteration of readings because they were modern.

“When you sell water, you need to make sure that all the water that is going through the water meters is being measured. There is a lot of theft especially through alteration where some people use magnets to have the numbers reverse,” said Engineer Gatende.

Meanwhile, President Mwai Kibaki has said that following the amendment to the Environment Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA) 1999, the Minister (Environment) may by Gazette notice declare a lake shore, wetland, coastal zone or river bank a protected area.

In a statement by the Presidential Press Service, the President said the Minister could also impose restrictions to protect such areas from environmental degradation.

This could be a move aimed at protecting the water sources especially now that most parts of the country were experiencing water shortage.

“The Minister may also, by notice in the Gazette, issue general and specific orders, regulations or standards for the management of river banks, lake shores, wetlands or coastal zones,” the statement read in part.

The Act also states that no person shall without prior written approval of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) given after an environmental assessment erect, reconstruct, place, alter, extend, remove or demolish any structure or part of any structure in, or in the river, lake or wetland.

It also directs that no person shall deposit any substance in a lake, river or wetland or in, on or under its bed, if that substance would or is likely to have adverse environmental effects on the river, lake or wetland.


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