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February 16, 2019

No more boreholes to be drilled, water table dropping, warns CS

Ministry of Water and Sanitation CS Simon Chelugui (R) and Kenya Water Institute (KEWI) Chairman Benjamin Muema (C) during the launch of a three-day workshop on integrated ground water resources management within river basins held at the Kenya Water Institute in Nairobi, January 15, 2019/FAITH MUTEGI
Ministry of Water and Sanitation CS Simon Chelugui (R) and Kenya Water Institute (KEWI) Chairman Benjamin Muema (C) during the launch of a three-day workshop on integrated ground water resources management within river basins held at the Kenya Water Institute in Nairobi, January 15, 2019/FAITH MUTEGI

Water Cabinet secretary Simon Chelugui has ordered Nairobi to stop drilling all boreholes, as they are competing for the water rom the same aquifier.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Kenya Water Training Institute at South C, Chelugui said they will focus on sustaining existing boreholes and investing in water resources outside the county.

“To address and to sustain the few existing boreholes, you have to limit the number of boreholes per area,” he said.

One licensing condition will be limiting the distance from one borehole to another, a minimium of 800 metres,” Chelugui said.

The CS He said Nairobi’s Eastlands area has fewer boreholes and geological surveys indicatee water capacity is less than two or three cubic metres, unlike those in the Western side of the city, Kileleshwa, Karen and Upper Hill.

He said the the only works to be done will be repairing, maintaining and possibly replacing the existing boreholes.

“We have not exhausted [the water table] but we have to make sure we manage and sustain the existing boreholes,” the CS said.

In supplementary budget, funds for the water subsector were increased by Sh373.8 million.

Mihang’o MCA and Water committee chairman Paul Kardos said the additional funds will take care of the ward water projects, which include drilling boreholes.

Water executive Larry Wambua said he will issue an official communication.

Last month, the Office of the Governor advertised a tender for water projects. Tender descriptions included drilling and equipping of boreholes, water extensions and sewer rehabilitation.

Wards that were to get boreholes were Njiru, Maringo, Uthiru, Harambee, Mowlem, Mihang’o, City Market and Umoja 2.

City director of water services Mario Kainga last year said 22 boreholes had already been drilled in Embakasi and 18 more would be drilled in other parts of the city.

REDUCING BOREHOLES

In addition to over exploitation, CS Chelugui said the biggest threat to underground water is pollution.

“We have to protect any water flowing underground, that’s why we have to invest a lot in water management,” Chelugui explained.

Illegal drilling of boreholes is another problem, he said.

The CS said that before a licence is issued to drill a borehole, the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) must get a letter of no objection from the water service provider — the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company.

Last year when the county faced severe drought and shortage of water, the government started investing in 100 boreholes to add water supply in the pipelines.

“WRMA is in charge of licensing and regulating boreholes. Those boreholes compete for the same aquifers underground, so we were forced to start rationing them 150 metres and 300 metres,” he said

He added, “Our boreholes will be good at 150 but because of the number of boreholes that have been licensed, we have been forced to close those aquifers to 300 metres.”

Last year, WRMA CEO Mohammed Shurie abruptly and unilaterally suspended issuance of groundwater permits within Nairobi, Kiambu and Machakos counties.

He said the recommended spacing between boreholes has been violated adding that over 7,000 boreholes exist.

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