Water crisis prompts State to revoke decision

By Wainaina Wambu | Wednesday, Sep 12th 2018 at 00:00
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Council of Governors Committee Chairman on Water, Forestry and Mining Kiraitu Murungi (left) and Water CS Simon Chelugui (centre) shares a moment as his Deputy Wilber Otichillo looks on during the consultation forum on the draft national water policy and strategies at Sawela Lodge in Naivasha on July 27 2018. [File, Standard]

The Government has backed down on a campaign to disconnect water intakes in Mt Kenya and Aberdare forests.

The region's leaders have protested at the disconnections by the Water Resource Management Authority (Warma), complaining that they had affected public facilities including hospitals and schools.

Disrupt supplies

On Monday, residents threatened to restore the connections and disrupt supplies to Nairobi to express their displeasure at the crackdown by Warma.

Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui and his Environment counterpart, Keriako Tobiko, yesterday chaired a day-long meeting with lawmakers from the region to discuss the causes of low water levels in rivers flowing from the two water towers.

The meeting also discussed the action being taken to restore the situation.

After the meeting, the CS announced that legal intakes and permits would be reinstated and those owned by communities regularised.

“All legal intakes and permits to be reinstated and community abstractions regularised in accordance with the law to serve the communities affected,” said Mr Chelugui.

The CS said a balance needed to be struck as water was a shared resource benefiting upstream and downstream users.

“A balance is required between water abstractions for domestic, irrigation, industrial and other users, and the need to maintain the minimum amount required to maintain environmental flows,” he said.

The CS said the Government would fast-track the construction of proposed dams to make available water for irrigation and domestic and industrial purposes.

He also said water abstractions for irrigation purposes should enough storage for 90 days to enable farmers to continue their activities during drought.

Abstraction points shall now have flow meters to determine the amount of water abstracted and regulate flow.

The Government also pledged implement and complete stalled water projects in the Mt Kenya region.

Sole dependency

During the meeting, the leaders accused the two ministries of high-handedness in their crackdown against water abstraction.

The MPs said their constituencies, some which are semi-arid, solely depended on water from the two water towers, and that this had not been put into consideration before the ban on abstraction was effected.

On Monday, governors Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua) and Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri) protested against the disconnections, saying they had triggered a water crisis.

The governors protested that residents had gone for days without water after Warma's crackdown.


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