Builders are fast embracing water recycling and underground water storage facilities
By David Mwitari | September 28th 2017
NAIROBI, KENYA: When the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company announced a water rationing plan in January, Ndakaini Dam, which supplies most parts of Nairobi with piped water, had reached 48 per cent of its capacity. The water company was forced to slash watersupply by 13 per cent to enable them sustain the city residents to at least April.
But the water shortage did not worry many city property developers or homeowners.
“Rainfall is not as reliable as it used to be some years back. This means upcoming urban developments have to embrace waterstewardship and better water harnessing mechanisms to keep residents water-sufficient,” says Samson Shivaji, the CEO Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Societies Network (KEWASNET).
With an estimated population of five million people, Nairobi’s daily water consumption is about 750 million litres. Low-income earners are said to consume at least 20 cubic metres of water per day.
In the period that Nairobi experienced dire water shortage, a number of residents and developers put in place measures to ensure their developments had water supply.
At Two Rivers Mall, the developers had constructed a water recycling facility, which ensured the car wash, and other water cleaning facilities in the establishment ran smoothly.
According to Shivaji, industrial and residential sectors should embrace rainwater harvesting methods and water recycling strategies. He says there should be underground storage tanks in commercial properties, residential and other urban developments as happens in developed cities.
“Water security is in our hands. Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company has indicated that their storage facilities are below average, meaning that we have to device new water harnessing and storage methods,” says Shivaji.
Underground water storage sources can help in complementing the county water sources which is mainly fromnatural water catchment points.
“We are encouraging property developers to utilise alternative water sources to deal with water shortages...,” says Shivaji.
At Horseshoe Village, a new gated community development in Runda whose residents include expatriates, developer Rovas Limited has installed a five-million litre underground water storage facility. to serve its residents is already in place.
Bhire Chatthe, the managing director of Rovas Limited, says the water facility can serve up to 70 families.
According to Chatthe, it is also good to put in place other facilities like waste water treatment facilities for recycling waste water in the property developments. Such water can be used for cleaning services.
Jacqueline Musyoki of Aunthetic Living International Limited and an advisor on water and sanitation programmes to the Makueni County Government says they are pushing property developers to incorporate water safety measures in their developments, including installation of underground water storage facilities, and waste water treatment systems.
She says landlords and other property owners should advise residents to use water wisely, especially during dry weather.
Musyoki, who worked with the governments authorities in the water departments until she retired, turning to green building strategies can help curb water shortage in big mixed-use developments.
“At the core of green building is sustainability and in turn recycling. Green buildings require the use of products made of recycled content like waste water,” she says.
In Kenya, she says setting up a basic water storage facility in a home where the daily water usage is 200 litres can cost as little as Sh100,000.
Henry Ochieng’, the CEO of Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations, says that sustainable plans like supplying treated water to residents are common ways to ensure safe water. However, such strategies require robust engagement with the residents who are the consumers of the water.
Ochieng’ says other mechanisms like making use of harvested water and investing in underground water sources alongside discipline in water usage can play a big role in cushioning residents from water problems.
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