9 May 2012

Kenya: Gatundu Floods Cut City Water Supply

Raging floods in Gakoe forest in Gatundu constituency have washed away the main pipeline from Sasumua dam cutting off water supply to the western and southern parts of Nairobi.

The affected line, which was washed away on Tuesday night, is 24 inches in diameter and supplies about 48,000 cubic metres per day, approximately 10 per cent of the total production capacity for the city.

The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company yesterday said their rapid response team has identified the damaged section and is fixing it . Authorities have also put measures in place to minimise the impact of the interruption.

Mbaruku Vyakweli of Nairobi Water said the company has mobilised 15 water tankers to the supply the affected areas, which will be supplemented by private tankers. "We have also made available 30 collapsible tanks to supply the affected areas and we have instructions to make sure that the 50 boreholes we have around the city are operational," Mbaruku said.

Athi Water Services Board, which is in charge of the water and infrastructure in Nairobi and its environs through chief executive Eng Malaquin Milgo, said they have started unclogging the Mwagu intake, as most of the floods debris had blocked it.

Milgo said they have pumped water from Gigiri to Kabete storage to save the situation. "There was a landslide within Gakoe forest which led to the clogging of the Mwagu intake but we are working round the clock to see normal water supplies resume in the city," he said.

Sasumua Dam, the second largest in the country, was built 50 years ago and supplies two-thirds of the water to the Kabete reservoir on Nairobi's western suburbs, from where it is distributed to the city. The dam pumps 60 million litres of water every day and is normally capable of sustaining sections of the city for at least three months.

In 2003, raging floods in the Aberdare region brought down part of the Sasumua dam wall, forcing it to be closed for more than 4 years as renovations costing in excess of Sh2 billion. After it was opened last year, it now holds an extra 12 million cubic meters bringing the total dam capacity to 17 million cubic meters.

The affected areas are Karen, Westlands, Gigiri, University of Nairobi, Lavington, Kawangware, Upperhill, Kenyatta National Hospital, Dagoretti Corner, Ngong Road and the Department of Defence. This is after heavy rains which have pounded most parts of the country since mid last month.

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