Kenya: Be Warned! Water From Most Boreholes in Nairobi Not Fit Human Consumption

Residents of Kawagware queue to buy water at a local water vendor in this photo taken on April 20, 2019.

Nairobi MCAs have demanded for the closure of all commercial boreholes drilled without approval from the county government with most having water not fit for human consumption.

This even as Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) Managing Director Engineer Nahashon Muguna said that the fluorine levels are very high for most boreholes in Nairobi, meaning that the quality of water coming from the boreholes is poor and not fit for human consumption.

According to Muguna, water from boreholes in Eastlands is not portable as fluoride levels in the area are extremely high, at over 15mm per litre against a required level of 0.5 mm per litre. Treating the water through reverse osmosis is also expensive.

"You can only know the quality of water after it has been tested. The drilling is done and water is drawn and taken for testing. This is why we have not taken over most of government drilled boreholes in the area as the water from them is of poor quality," Muguna said.

In light of this, MCAs in Nairobi now want City Hall to conduct a survey and an audit of all boreholes in Nairobi and those found drilled in road reserves and along Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) water pipes closed.

WATER SHORTAGE

Mihang'o Ward MCA Paul Kados decried the mushrooming of commercial boreholes across the capital blaming them for the water shortage in the capital as they collude with officials from Nairobi Water to ration water to make a killing from residents desperate for the commodity.

"Most owners of these commercial boreholes are the cause of water shortage in Nairobi. I know a friend of mine who lives in Karen but has 20 boreholes in Kayole. He is making a killing there selling water by competing with Nairobi Water Company," said the chair of Nairobi County Assembly Water committee.

He said that there are more than 3,000 commercial boreholes in the capital city with more being drilled each and every day. He further called for regulation to control the exercise.

"We do not need commercial boreholes where there are NCWSC pipes. In Mihang'o Ward alone, we have more than 200 boreholes," he said.

Kware Ward MCA Rose Kula complained that in Nyagathugu area each and every plot has a commercial borehole with the water drawn by vendors who in turn sell the water to residents at exorbitant prices.

DRILLING BOREHOLES

"What are officers at the sub-county level doing while all this is happening? The water vendors are selling the water from the boreholes to residents with a 20 litre jerrican going for as high as Sh50," said Ms Kula.

Umoja I MCA Mark Mugambi said that in Umoja Innercore almost all plots have a borehole.

But while appearing before the Water committee last week Thursday, Nairobi County Environment and Water executive Vesca Kangogo said the county government cannot fully control the mushrooming of commercial boreholes as their 'hands are tied'.

This, she explained, saying there is no clear role by the county when it comes to the drilling of the boreholes with the buck stopping with national government agencies such as Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) in conjunction with National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), which are the bodies to give approvals.

"The work of the county is only to give the 'no objection' document after approvals by WARMA and NEMA. They (WARMA) do not communicate their findings to us so that we can take responsibility," said Ms Kangogo.

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