Can we clean Kenyan water in 100 days?

Nema launches rapid results campaign, inspectors to fan out across eight regions

In Summary

• Analysis in 2016 showed at least 7,892 facilities did not have effluent discharge licences. 

• This week, Nema ordered the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company to stop pollution or be sued.

Some of the water taps with no water./FILE
Some of the water taps with no water./FILE

Kenya's lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, wetlands and other water bodies are badly polluted.

On Wednesday the National Environment Management Authority launched a Sh4540 million rapid results initiative to clean up the dirty water — in 100 days.

Or at least make a difference and require polluters to quickly clean up their act.

Nema's 2016 analysis by Nema revealed that 7,892 facilities did not have effluent discharge licenses. Surely a low figure. The status in 2019 was not immediately known but it could be worse.

Nema board Chairman John Konchellah on Wednesday warned those violating Water Quality Regulations by discharging into the environment or releasing untreated sewerage.

"Stern action will be taken," he said during launch of the 100-day campaign at Nema offices in South C, Nairobi.

Konchellah said good compliance is yet to be achieved, adding that as licensing is centrally done at Nema's headquarters in Nairobi.

Offences are punishable by a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 under the Environmental Management and Coordination Act 1999. Not much for a big business.

Konchellah said the country will be divided into eight regions — Coast, North Lake, South Lake, Nairobi Metropolitan area, Northeastern, Central, North Rift and South Rift.

"Nema inspectors will visit all facilities that need effluent discharge licences, issue improvement notices and direct them how to apply for licences," he said.

Water quality regulations gazetted in September 2006 provide for the protection of lakes, rivers, streams, springs, wells and other water sources.

They cover domestic water and water for industry, agriculture, recreation, fisheries and wildlife.

Regulations prohibit the discharge of untreated effluent into the environment in violation of standards.

They provide standards for limited discharge of poisons, toxins, noxious substances, radioactive waste and other pollutants.

Anyone found discharging effluent from sewage treatment works, industry or other sources without a valid effluent discharge license by Nema commits an office.

Wahungu said cleaning up the Nairobi River requires all arms of the national government as it involves many complex issues.

"The Nairobi River is polluted by two sources — sewage and dumping especially in low-income suburbs," Nema DG Geoffrey Wahungu said.

The Nema board is engaging CS Keriako Tobiko and the Treasury, appealing for increased resources and personnel, especially for subcounties.

This week, the authority gave the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company an order to stop pollution or be sued.

Water pollution is also widespread in Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu and Nema inspectors are on their way.

(Edited by V. Graham)



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