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Monday,August 10,2020 19:31 PM

Cost Of Kampala Water Will Rise

By Vision Reporter

Added 1st October 2002 03:00 AM

He won’t reveal his name as he knows he is doing something bad. But he doesn’t know how bad. As he sinks his hoe into the earth, poverty written on his face, all he cares is that the harvests will earn him some money.

He won’t reveal his name as he knows he is doing something bad. But he doesn’t know how bad. As he sinks his hoe into the earth, poverty written on his face, all he cares is that the harvests will earn him some money.

Nakivubo channel rehabilitation will increase pollution of Lake Victoria, raising water purification costs

By Charles Wendo

He won’t reveal his name as he knows he is doing something bad. But he doesn’t know how bad. As he sinks his hoe into the earth, poverty written on his face, all he cares is that the harvests will earn him some money.
Little does he know that he is defiling the only source of piped water for Kampala. He and his colleagues have dug up every arable inch of the Nakivubo wetland that lies between Bugolobi and Namuwongo more than 2km long and nearly 1km wide: “We are many, perhaps more than 100,” he says. “I paid sh30,000 so somebody left for me this plot,” the man says.
Coco yams (mayuni) and sugarcane replace wetland plants. In turn, buildings replace these crops. The poor erect shanties, mainly on the Namuwongo side. On the Bugolobi side the wealthy lining up bungalows. All encroach on the wetland.
And now a bigger force is coming in the form of the World Bank funded Nakivubo Channel Rehabilitation Project. As the channel snakes through 11 km of Kampala, it picks up waste, especially from the crowded parts of the city.
Every day, it delivers waste equivalent to raw sewerage from 100,000 people, according to the 1998 report of the Murchison Bay Water Quality Project. And the rate will increase when the expansion is complete. The expanded terminal part of the Nakivubo Channel is a nightmare. Dirty brown water, black sediment and a faint smell of manure. Heaps of faded plastic bottles, polythene bags, used and unused condoms, as well as various articles litter the banks. It gets worse: Unlike before, a lot of the filth now goes into Lake Victoria intact: semi-treated sewage, industrial wastes and whatever rain water washes off the ground. Day after day, the disabled wetland has larger amounts of waste to deal with. The wetland that previously filtered the waste water before it flowed into Lake Victoria is now devastated. Crops like sugarcane, which have replaced the original wetland vegetation, cannot filter the waste effectively.
“We are now flushing all the city’s into the lake,” says Engineer Ssonko Semakula, Kampala area manager, National water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC). “Within four hours after a downpour, you start seeing brown water in the lake.”
Only 51km away from the mouth of the Nakivubo channel, is the Ggaba water treatment plant, which pumps 120 million litres of fresh water into the city daily. As the lake gets more polluted, water treatment becomes more expensive and more difficult. Already the amount of aluminium sulphate used in treating the water has increased by about 20% since 1995 because the lake is now more polluted. As a result, the plant spends an extra sh94m a year on aluminium sulphate alone, water engineers say.
“If water quality continues to deteriorate, we shall either relocate the plant or change the treatment process. That means a lot of extra costs,” says Christopher Kanyesigye, quality control manager, National water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC).
Water officials want the encroachers evicted to allow the natural wetland vegetation to re-grow. There are laws to back eviction, only that city authorities have not enforced them.
However, Kampala Mayor John Ssebaana Kizito won’t take the blame for failure to evict the encroachers: “I agree entirely that people should not grow anything in the swamps, but our powers are limited. There is a whole ministry for the environment,” he says.
Environment officials throw it back to the mayor, who heads the Kampala City Council (KCC): “Actual management is the responsibility of the local government, which is KCC,” says Paul Mafabi, chief of the National Wetlands Project.
Scientists at NWSC also want waste management in the city to be improved to reduce the amount of filth that goes into the channel. Three quarters of the filth in the Nakivubo channel comes directly from homesteads.
Most importantly, they want the Nakivubo Channel re-designed to spread out the waste water in the wetland for filtration before it flows into Lake Victoria.
“At whose cost?” the Tamale Kiggundu, Nakivubo Channel Rehabilitation Project chief, asks. He says they might consider re-designing in future if they get more money. In the mean time, what happens to the more than one million city dwellers who wet their throats with water from Lake Victoria daily?
“There is a limit to which we can keep cushioning the increased costs of water treatment due to pollution. In the end the consumer may do with higher costs or water that is not well suited for consumption,” says Dr. William Muhairwe, NWSC Managing Director.
This is the bomb shell. The result of a disastrous collaboration involving the greed of swamp encroachers, sloppy planning of a development project and poor law enforcement. Ends

Cost Of Kampala Water Will Rise

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