Those legally abstracting water from Mt Kenya and the Aberdares will have their lines reinstated, the government said yesterday, after a stormy four-hour closed-door meeting.
The government and leadership from Mt Kenya region reached common ground at Utalii Hotel, Nairobi, over the controversy surrounding the suspension of water abstraction. The government suspended all water abstraction permits on August 21.
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko and Water’s Simon Chelugui suspended abstractions following low water flow.
Specifically, rivers from Mt Kenya catchments were recording very low water flows yet the dry season is several months away.
The dry season could possibly be January next year according to the two government officials. The two CSs said the likely explanation of low water levels was over-abstraction either by legal permit holders or illegal ones.
Additionally, it has been reported that within small segments of certain rivers, there is over-concentration of abstractors, which in some cases are more than 75 in one small river. Yesterday, some leaders from the region were however seemingly unhappy with the deal.
The joint communique, which was read by Chelugui, has more than 20 recommendations.
Among them is that all legal abstractions be reinstated. Chelugui said all water abstractions for irrigation purposes shall have 90-day storage to enable farmers to continue with their activities during drought.
“The government should fast-track the construction of proposed dams in the region to provide water for irrigation, domestic and industrial purposes in order to improve the livelihood of the people,”he said.
Chelugui said arrangements will be made to build common intakes to cater for abstractions located around particular areas to eliminate criss-crossing pipelines and make it easier for enforcement.
Chelugui said all water abstraction points will have flow meters to determine the actual amount of water abstracted and to regulate flow and for fair distribution.
A multi-sectoral approach that involves stakeholders and communities will handle emerging issues. Chelugui said illegal abstractions will be regularised in accordance with the provisions of the law.
“Adequate resources should be allocated to the water resource authority and other agencies for monitoring, enforcement of abstraction,”the PS said said.