All licences to divert water from rivers in Mt Kenya region have been suspended.
Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said this would allow the ministry to audit the licences issued by the Water Resources Authority after complaints that over-abstraction and illegal activities upstream were affecting water volumes in rivers Thegu and Sagana.
The CS noted that although the region had heavy rainfall this year, rivers flowing from Mt Kenya still have low water levels. He blamed this on unregulated intakes.
“The number of intakes are disproportionate to the flow of the rivers. The people we entrusted with the responsibility are not doing their jobs,” said the CS.
Mr Chelugui said the licences would be issued afresh after a report is prepared to indicate the exact water volumes in the rivers and the amount that can be drawn without adversely effecting people living downstream.
He announced that the ministry’s headquarters at Maji House in Nairobi would issue all licences to draw water from rivers, a function that had been devolved to regional offices
The CS spoke yesterday after he toured the source of the two rivers at Kabaru forest in Nyeri. He was accompanied by Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu.
The CS expressed his concern about the level of diversion of water from Sagana and Thegu rivers to irrigate farms, blaming it on members of the Community Forest Association, who have been granted permission to cultivate in the forest.
His visit came two days after Environment CS Keriako Tobiko expressed concern about the number of water intakes in the area.
Chelugui said the two ministries were planning an urgent meeting to address the issue.