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Kenya: Govt stops borehole drilling in Nairobi due to congestion

Nairobi residents should brace for prolonged water rationing as a plan by the county to enhance supply by drilling more boreholes may not happen after all.

Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui has ordered a stop to all borehole drilling activities in the city as the government seeks to invest in water sources outside the county.

City residents have been putting up with the rationing that started in April 2017 as Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company can only supply 504,000 cubic metres of water against the demand of 770, 000 cubic metres.

In 2018, however, City Hall director of water services, Mario Kainga, said 18 boreholes would be drilled across the county on top of the 22 in Embakasi.

Nairobi then advertised a tender for water projects including drilling and equipping of boreholes, extensions and sewer rehabilitation.

Njiru, Maringo, Uthiru, Harambee, Mowlem, Mihang’o, City Market and Umoja 2 Wards were to get the new boreholes.

In addition, the county set aside Sh360 million in the recently passed Nairobi County Supplementary budget for development projects in the water subsector.

However, CS Chelugui said focus should be on the maintenance of existing boreholes.

The CS said it seems Nairobi has exhausted its underground supply because the Water Resources Management Authority, which is in charge of licensing and regulating boreholes, has limited the distance between boreholes to 800 metres.

Mr Chelugui further pointed out that geological surveys in Eastlands indicated that the water capacity per borehole was less than three cubic metres due to congestion.

This is in comparison to residential areas on the western side, including Kileleshwa, Karen and Upper Hill.

“In Karen, for instance, the distance of 150 metres has been used but going by the number of boreholes that have been licensed, we have been forced to close aquifers at 150 metres and go down to 300 metres because the boreholes compete for the same aquifers underground,” he said.

He added, however, that, “We have not exhausted the capacity but we have to make sure we sustain existing boreholes. [To do so] you have to limit the number of boreholes per area.”

“One of the licensing conditions is to limit the distance from one borehole to another to 800 metres so we do not have dead boreholes because most compete for supply from the same sources,” Mr Chelugui explained on Tuesday at the Kenya Water Training Institute in South C, Nairobi.

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