What you need to know:
- The period from mid-August to early October is usually dry and will depend on the reservoirs.
- If it does not rain we can only ration further, says NWSC.
The water shortage being experienced in the city could get worse in coming weeks, the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company has warned.
With taps fast running dry in many estates, the supplier has cautioned that dams are on the verge of drying up.
The company says the current rationing programme may be tightened because of the falling levels and has called for prudent use of the available water.
The firm was banking on the short rains in October but the weatherman has dropped a bombshell: There might be no short rains after all.
“There is no guarantee for short rains, according to the Kenya Meteorological Department.
However, they say reliable advice on the short rains will be given in the first week of September in a briefing to all stakeholders,” Mr Francis Mugo, the company’s managing director, told the Saturday Nation.
The weatherman has advised NWSC to control water in dams and urge residents to use supplies wisely until the next rains in March.
With the current rationing programme, the available water in Ndakaini Dam, Thika, which is about 50 million cubic metres, can sustain Nairobi residents for only six months.
Ndakaini’s capacity is about 70 million cubic metres. The dam accounts for 85 per cent of water supplied in Nairobi. The other dam, Sasumua, is under repair, a situation that has exacerbated the situation.
The two dams account for 96 per cent of the city’s supply. Sasumua has only 3.7 million cubic metres, about two months supply, instead of the normal 16 million cubic metres.
The water had to be drained to the lowest level to facilitate repair. According to the water company, the repair will take about 12 months.
Although Ruiru Dam and Kikuyu Springs have normal volumes, they represent only four per cent of the total supply.
“The current drizzles’ replenishment rate is about 0.8 cubic metres per second. We are drawing 1.8 cubic metres per second. The dam is depleting by about 4cm per day,” said Mr Mugo.
To limit effects of water rationing, NWSC urges Nairobi residents to use water wisely. They are advised to avoid watering plants and washing vehicles with treated water.
There is also need to harvest rain water for general purposes. According to Mr Mugo, the Government should pass a law compelling contractors to install water-harvesting facilities.
NWSC would be relieved once areas outside its jurisdiction, which it is currently serving, find an alternative source.
The areas, which include Kiambu, Gatundu, Githunguri, EPZ, parts of Kitengela and Athi River, draw about 8,000 cubic metres a day.
“The situation is not likely to improve. But there is nothing we can do in the very short term. I only hope it rains by mid-October,” says Mr Mugo.
If it does not rain, he says, we can only ration further. Eastlands residents, for example, who are getting water for four days a week, will revert to one day a week, he adds.
“Boreholes have proved to be unreliable. Existing ones like in Karen have already dried up. Those being sunk have had to be drilled to the next layer. Sooner than later, there won’t be any underground water as well,” he cautioned.
The MD is concerned that the period from mid-August to early October is usually dry and will depend on the reservoirs.
Kenyans are to blame for the current situation, which, however, has a bearing on global warming.
Prof Wangari Maathai aptly captured the situation when she addressed the opening forum at the World Expo in Japan in March 29, 2005.
She said: “Nature is very unforgiving. If we destroy her, we will suffer. It is in our interest to protect nature’s wisdom.”
Unfortunately, Kenyans have continued to destroy forests.
“As we speak, we cannot open Sondu Miriu power project because the available water cannot turn a turbine. Yet we are politicking about Mau Forest instead of conserving it.
"That is what happened and Aberdares is today bare. Yet we expect to feed Ndakaini and Sasumua,” says Mr Mugo.
Natural forests conserve wetness and reduce evaporation. This wetness sips into the dams when it is not raining.
“This situation will not improve soon. Trees being planted now will take about 20 years to create an impact,” he says.
This water crisis is not unique to Nairobi. For instance, towns all the way to Coast are served by the same rivers that serve Nairobi.
The situation is only better in western Kenya and the upper side of the Aberdares, towards Nyahururu, where it is raining.