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Lodwar Water slashes costs by a third by investing in solar

By Standard Digital Reporter | February 14th 2015

Lodwar: Lodwar Water Services Company (LOWASCO) has partnered with leading water and energy solutions provider, Davis and Shirtliff, and the Japanese Aid Agency (JICA), in a Sh16m project to install solar hybrid borehole pumping systems. The installation will be done in three of its seven borehole fields in Lodwar, which will lower the cost of water supply by 33 per cent and improve reliability.

The exorbitant cost of electricity has kept the cost of supplying water in the area high, with LOWASCO spending Sh45 to supply each cubic meter of water while charging its clients just Sh33 per cubic meter – consequently incurring a loss of Sh12 per cubic meter supplied. The boreholes will now pump water using solar energy by day and switch over to mains power by night, when the demand for mains power is at its lowest. Until now, water from the boreholes has been pumped solely with mains electricity, which was not only unreliable, but also extremely expensive.

Through the installation of the solar hybrid borehole pumping system, the water service provider will now incur a cost of Sh30 for each cubic metre of water.

"Supplying water to Lodwar had been costly due to the large amount of electricity used in pumping water from the boreholes. We wanted to keep the tariffs low and as such it was imperative that we found solutions to lower our costs to under Sh33 per cubic metre to at least break even," said Rtd. Col. John Esekon, LOWASCO Managing Director.

The installations feature a remote monitoring mechanism that measures the rate of flow of water, current consumption and available radiation.
"Each pumping system is fitted with a tracking system so that we can keep tabs on the performance of the solar hybrid pumping systems. We can, therefore, run the diagnostics necessary to keep them at optimum performance by facilitating timely post-installation support," said Anthony Karunguru, Davis and Shirtliff's senior technician for the Lodwar project.

With the installation of the solar hybrid borehole pumping systems having facilitated the maintenance of water tariffs at Sh33 per cubic meter, LOWASCO now plans to convert its remaining four boreholes to hybrid pumping systems to further improve the reliability of water services in the town.

Davis and Shirtliff has previously undertaken similar installations in Wajir, Isiolo, Machakos and Moyale counties. The five-week project in Lodwar has, however, been a different kind of experience for the Davis and Shirtliff team, which had to hire four protection officers as escorts from Kainuk to Lokichar and onwards to Lodwar, with visitors highly susceptible to attacks by gangs in Turkana County.

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