Wa­ter tun­nel ‘may drain Mu­rang’a dry’ by 2035

‘The Athi Wa­ter Ser­vices Board used a static al­lo­ca­tion for­mula and very low growth rate for res­i­dents, agri­cul­ture and in­dus­try’

The Star (Kenya) - - News General - JOHN MUCHANGI @jo­munji

Mu­rang’a county could be­come dry by 2035 be­cause of mas­sive ob­struc­tion by the North­ern Wa­ter Col­lec­tor Tun­nel, a new study in­di­cates.

Re­searchers say the state un­der­es­ti­mated the county’s cur­rent and long-term wa­ter needs when plan­ning the Sh6.8 bil­lion project. They want it stopped or mod­i­fied.

“The Athi Wa­ter Ser­vices Board used a static al­lo­ca­tion for­mula and very low growth rate for res­i­dents, agri­cul­ture and in­dus­try,” Paul Ki­mani, a US-based Kenyan civil engi­neer, told the Star in an ex­clu­sive tele­phone and e-mail in­ter­view. He re­leased the study. Ki­mani is al­lied to SaveAber­dares.org, a lo­cal con­ser­va­tion group.

He said the AWSB mis­led Kenyans the tun­nel would mainly tap flood wa­ters. “The rivers flood only for a short time dur­ing two rainy sea­sons. If the in­ten­tion is to with­draw flood flow, tun­nels could be shut down for four-six months a year, when wa­ter is needed the most in Nairobi Metropoli­tan area. Does this make eco­nomic or en­vi­ron­men­tal sense?” Ki­mani asked.

He said towns like Maragua and Kenol are grow­ing rapidly and have no reli­able wa­ter sup­ply. “If the project is im­ple­mented, the county will run out of wa­ter by 2035,” the study says. Phase-I is un­der­way, com­ple­tion is ex­pected in 2018.

The project will con­vey 140 mil­lion litres daily from the Maragua, Irati and Gikigie rivers into Ndakaini Dam in Mu­rang’a and even­tu­ally to Nairobi. Three more phases fol­low.

A study com­mis­sioned by the Mu­rang’a in April last year op­posed the project in its cur­rent form.

It said as­sert­ing the tun­nel would only tap floods was “mis­lead­ing”. It said Nairobi should re­cover the 162 mil­lion litres of wa­ter it loses daily, which it called equiv­a­lent to the tun­nel sup­ply. It said Mu­rang’a will lose Sh2.3 bil­lion in value-added wa­ter a year in in op­por­tu­nity costs fore­gone.

/ALICE WAITHERA

A sign post show­ing con­struc­tion of the North­ern Wa­ter Col­lec­tor Tun­nel on April 13

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