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National Environmental management Authority says river Athi unsafe, blames Nairobi residents

REAL ESTATE
By Peter Muiruri | October 10th 2013

By Peter Muiruri

Nairobi, Kenya: National Environmental management Authority (Nema) has urged people living along the Athi River basin to abstain from using water for domestic and agricultural purposes.

Addressing a press conference in his office, Director-General Prof Geoffrey Wahungu said the directive follows the emission of raw sewage from residents living in Nairobi’s Westlands and Kasarani areas, polluting Nairobi River. This water makes its way into Galana River.

“Following an inspection of the entire waterway together with officials from the Water Resources Management Authority, we have established that the Ruai Waste Water Treatment Works was not working to full capacity as the main sewer line had collapsed at Njiru.

The team proceeded to Fourteen Falls in Thika where they confirmed that the picturesque falls were polluted,” said Wahungu.

Wahungu said his agency would liaise with county directors of environment in the affected areas to chart the way forward and come up with timelines for a clean up exercise. 

Pollution

“This is a serious national matter that is going to affect thousands of people living downstream all the way to the Sabaki estuary. The pollution has affected the river’s biological oxygen demand, a situation that will obviously affect any aquatic life along the river. Athi Water Services Board has certified the matter as urgent and is in the process of repairing the line,” he said.

The new directive will come as a shock to a large segment of the population living along the Athi/Galana/Sabaki ecosystem. The 390 kilometre long river is the second biggest in the country after Tana River. It drains a basin area of about 70,000 square kilometres.

It is the main source of livelihood in Ukambani, Taita and Kilifi, areas that receive depressed rains for most of the year. During his campaigns early on this year, Amason Kingi who went ahead to win the Kilifi gubernatorial seat, had promised to harness the river’s potential to boost agriculture in the county.

“We are aware of the gravity of the situation. We shall be consulting with agencies – both public and private – in the sector to find alternative sources of water for the residents,” added Wahungu.

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