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