The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Kisumu Water Safe for Drinking, Kebs Boss Says

THE Kenya Bureau of Standards has dispelled fear that Kisumu water is not safe for drinking. Kebs Western Regional Manager Martin Nyakiamo said despite the high hyacinth levels in the lake, the standards body has certified the water supplied to households as safe.

Addressing news reporters at the Lake Victoria South Water Services Board Water Treatment factory at Dunga yesterday, Nyakiamo said they were liaising with the Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company to ensure supplies to consumers are safe for drinking.

Nyakiamo was accompanied by Kiwasco Managing Director David Onyango, Water Resources Management Authority Regional Manager Dr Margaret Abira and other staff.

The officer said water supplied by Kiwasco had passed necessary quality assurance tests that are regularly undertaken by Kebs.

"The 9001:2008 certification awarded to Kiwasco guarantees that the company complies with the rigorous standards of quality. Consumers should not be worried about reports of iron in the water due to hyacinth since the presence of the mineral in drinking water enhances functions of the human body," Nyakiamo said.

Kiwasco MD David Onyango said consumers should not be worried since tests on samples of water by Kebs had proved that the supplies were safe for consumption.

He said the discolouration in the water had been caused by contamination of raw supply to the treatment works by huge amounts of hyacinth that had crowded intake at Lake Victoria.

He said contamination occurs when iron that is released by rotting hyacinth adds to the mineral that is already in the lake. The process results in high iron levels that find their way to the treatment plant.

On questions concerning the discolouration of tap water, the official said when extra chlorine used in the treatment process reacts with iron, it results in a yellowish to brown discolouration of water flowing from taps.

"It is this discolouration that had caused concern among consumers who assume the water is not safe for consumption," he said.

"While the use of chlorine ensures that the water is safe for consumption, high amounts of the mineral react with high iron levels to produce a discolouration that has been experienced by consumers," he said.

The official said one of the solutions used to deal with the problem includes exposing raw water from the intake to air to increase levels of oxygen. He said higher levels of oxygen change the state of water.

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