Delays on Itare Dam keeps Nakuru taps dry

As the country marks World Water Day, Nakuru residents are upbeat that the stalled multi-billion-shillings Itare Dam in Kuresoi will one day have water running on their taps.

The daily yield for the dam was estimated at 100,000 cubic meters, which would go a long way in complementing other sources such as rivers, rain, and boreholes.

Over time, the growing population of Nakuru city has overstretched the available water resources, which has further forced most of the estates to get supplied on alternate days and hours.

Most Nakuru residents from the middle and low-income estates report getting direct piped water supply on their taps for an estimated 8 hours a day on three to four alternate days per week.

President William Ruto said in his early February visit to Nakuru that his administration was engaged in talks with parties involved in the Italian-funded project, including financiers for its resumption.

“We hope to conclude talks with the stakeholder in the next two weeks. The talks will pave way for the resumption of the construction of Itare dam to give Nakuru people clean water,” said Ruto.

The Sh34 billion project had been slated for completion by April 2021 but stalled in September 2018 after the contractor, CMC DI Raveena, filed for bankruptcy in their home country, Italy.

The President, who was then a deputy president, has in the past, however, linked stalling of the project to dirty politics by the previous administration to derail development in Rift Valley.

Nakuru Water and Sanitation Company (NAWASCO) is the main public water supplier to the city residents who depend on private entities, especially during dry spell seasons.

NAWASCO Managing Director James Gachathi says that the city currently has a deficit of 40 percent in its daily demand for water to serve the over 422,000 people in Nakuru’s metropolis.

“We are currently doing about 42,000 cubic meters per day against a demand of 70,000 cubic meters. We are engaging stakeholders on bridging the 28,000 cubic meters deficit,” said Gachathi.

A section of the stalled Itare Dam project in Kuresoi South, Nakuru. [kipsang Joseph, Standard]

This deficit is to shoot up as construction and industrial parks within the county continue to take shape following the quest to reposition Nakuru as one of Kenya’s major industrial hubs.

Due to this shortfall, some residents who don’t have their own sources have to stock water in tanks within their residences as there is no assured continuous flow of tap water.

“On average, we supply for about 20 hours per day. This means that there are areas which get less than this. Some disadvantaged estates such as Kwa Rhonda and Kaptembwo get little,” he said.

The Director reveals that 95 percent of the city’s water supply is sourced from boreholes in different parts of the peri-urban electoral wards, with only a few in the city.

“We have about 40 boreholes in areas with good quality water for domestic use. We have 14 boreholes in Kabatini, 8 in Free Area, seven near Solai and only six within the city,” said Gachathi.

He explained that they are hopeful that Itare Dam will be completed soon, noting that boreholes can sometimes have disrupted supply based on their capacity as years go by.

“Nearly 75 percent of the dam’s water is set to end up in the city. This will be a great milestone for the people of Nakuru, who will have a consistent supply of clean tap water,” said Gachathi.

Nakuru Rural Water and Sanitation Company (NARUWASCO) is another public water company tasked with supplying over 1.1 million residents spread in 7,000 square kilometre rural areas.

Some areas served by NARUWASCO, such as Rongai, Molo, Kiamunyi, and Njoro, located along the underground tunnel conveying water to Nakuru, are among those set to benefit from Itare dam.

Here, the government intends to connect rural households to piped water to boost food production through irrigation.

The earmarked rural areas that are partly semi-arid are among the worst affected in the county following the prolonged drought that has impacted their food production for two years.

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