Water Day supplement
Unchecked pollution choking Lake Victoria
By Betty Amamukirori
In August 2017, the Commission of Inquiry into land matters was shocked to find dead aquatic life floating on the shores of Lake Victoria, at Luzira, Kampala.
The commissioners saw huge flies hovering over frosty green water and dead water snails. The place had a revolting stench.
On touring the area, they found the once lively beach hosting hundreds of fun loving Ugandans abandoned. The permanent structures had grown algae and looked haunted.
According to residents, the prime land was abandoned due to the stench from the city waste which is being poured in the lake through the Nakivubo channel. Residents said the waste made the lake inhabitable for aquatic life and micro-organisms started dying.
Far from the abandoned beach, children in the area were found swimming in oblivion of the contaminated water, an activity officials from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) described as dangerous to human health.
Degradation of wetlands
Tom Okurut, the NEMA executive director, told the commission that because of the degradation of the wetlands and population increase in the urban area, dangerous wastes are emptied into the lake and over time it has caused a sludge build up which has in turn killed all the aquatic life.
He said fish breeding places have been compromised by the sludge build up and the only living things in that part of the lake are maggots. Okurut said, the Rubanda County West MP, Henry Banyezaki, who had bought the land to develop it into a beach had to abandon it due to the sludge.
“Due to population increase in the city, the wetlands can no longer filter the waste. So it all pours into the lake,” he said. Okurut explained that the sludge has reduced the depth profile of Port Bell from eight metres to six metres. Uganda currently uses the lake water for drinking, irrigation, fisheries, navigation and generation of hydro-electricity power. The 26,560 square miles’ lake is shared by the East African states of Kenya (6%), Uganda (45%) and Tanzania (49%).
it has a 3450 kilometre-long shoreline, lies at an altitude of 1135 meters above sea level, has a mean depth of 40 meters and maximum depth of 80 meters. According to Dr Callist Tindimugaya, the commissioner, water resources planning and regulation at the Ministry of Water and Environment, the pollution in the lake is composed of faecal matter and all the rubbish from the cities and towns which are washed into the lake.
Water ministry is the government agency responsible for managing the water resources on behalf of the Government. In 2005/6 the water level went down by 1.6 meters and it impacted power generation, navigation and fisheries,” Tindimugaya said during an interview with the New Vision.
He said at that time more water was being released for power generation. So they decided to regulate the water amount and eventually the lost level was regained. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THIS STORY
Uganda pays high price for tampering with environment
By Gloria Nakajubi
Due to the increasingly declining water levels in River Rwizi, the lifeline of south western Uganda, the Government has been forced to start drawing water from River Kagera, which still has a good water flow.
However, this is coming at a huge cost to the tax payer in excess of sh300b. According to a 2017 bid document by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) and the water and environment ministry calling for consultation services for the project, it was stated that Kagera Water Works Package 1, which consist construction of the Kagera water supply system (intake from Kagera River) as well as main transmission pipe was estimated to cost about euros 50m (about sh230b), while Package 2, consisting of rehabilitation improvement of the Mbarara water supply network and sanitation systems at about euros 20m (about sh92b).
With increasing demands for water due to urbanisation and increasing population amidst unsustainable use of the environment have left River Rwizi barely holding on to dear life.
River Kagera, according to the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Water and Environment, Alfred Okidi, has adequate and stable flow of water throughout the year. “The projects’ detailed designed are nearing completion.
It will provide water for both urban and rural communities from Isingiro to Mbarara along the main transmission line and the surrounding rural areas. The intake has been designed to provide water for production too,” he explained. River Rwizi banks, according to Okidi have been heavily settled and the wetlands that fed it with water have been drained for human settlement, agriculture and grazing.
This has resulted into siltation and pollution of the river by agricultural chemicals, human and animal waste. Mbarara is one of the largest urban centres in Uganda, according to the 2014 National Housing and Population Census and has had its population more than double in the last decade with a total of 195,165 residents up from the 69,363 in 2001.
The population has also increased in the other 10 districts, including Buhweju, Sheema, Bushenyi, Ntungamo, Isingiro and Kiruhura through which River Rwizi flows.
According to a 2015 study titled A shared water risk assessment for vulnerable water basin: River Rwizi in Uganda by P. Songa, J. Rumohr and R. Musota, all the water demand trends examined were increasing, mainly as a result of population growth and increasing urbanisation.
“Total water demand in the catchment was projected to grow from 28 million cubic metres per year in 2011 to 93 million cubic metres by the year 2035” reads the report. River Kagera is the largest of the 23 rivers that drain into Lake Victoria and it carries 34 % of the annual inflow to the lake, over twice as much as the next largest river, the Nzoia in Kenya.
This proportion drops to 24 % when the input of rain less evaporation on the lake surface is taken into account. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THIS STORY