The County Government of Nakuru is forging public-private partnerships aimed at revamping its aged wastewater treatment, water supply and sewerage systems.
Governor Susan Kihika said the 4 decade-old systems is buckling under the pressure of increased industrialization, urbanization and a growing population and poses a pollution threat to the Lake Nakuru Biodiversity.
Speaking at her offices when she hosted a delegation from Central Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency (CRVWW), Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company, (NAWASSCO) and KfW German Development Bank Ms Kihika noted that the sewerage system covers only about 30 percent of the Rift Valley capital.
With households in Nakuru generating about 300 million litres of waste water daily, the Governor underscored the need to put in place a modern and efficient waste water management system which will take into account the recycle and reuse concept and enhance separation of storm water and waste water from residential areas for appropriate filtering and safe disposal.
She expressed concern that most of the waste water ends up in rivers and main water sources downstream, putting residents at risk of contracting waterborne diseases like typhoid, dysentery and cholera.
“My administration will prioritize revamping and expanding the sewerage system in Nakuru city and other towns, including Naivasha, Gilgil and Molo. Nakuru is now a city and sanitation has to be given top priority in terms of having clean water and a proper sewerage system,” she pledged.
Ms Kihika indicated that plans were in place to expand the sewer systems to other parts of the city, including informal settlements.
“We intend to expand the sewerage system to various estates in Nakuru city which have for long been relying on alternative methods of waste disposal, including septic tanks. We will also upgrade our two existing treatment plants in Kivumbini and Mwariki,” added the Governor.
Only Milimani, Langa Langa, London, the town centre, Racecourse and Freehold estates have access to sewerage services.
A significant number of estates in the city, including posh ones, are not linked to the sewer system. They include Bismarck, Kenya Industrial Training Institute (KITI), Kiamunyi and Ranges View, which adjoins the affluent Milimani.
Others that are not connected to the main sewer line include Ngata, Mwariki, Baruti, Langa Langa and the informal settlements of Kivumbini, Lake View, Kwa Rhoda, Kaptembwa, Kaloleni and Bondeni.
Residents in these estates rely on septic tanks. When their septic tanks are full, they hire exhausters which charge between Sh2, 000 and Sh3, 000 per trip to take out their waste to the main sewer treatment plant.
In virtually all these estates connected to the old sewerage system the sight of raw sewage is a common sight with sewer lines sometimes bursting and leaking, putting residents at risk of contracting diseases.
Ms Kihika revealed that among the projects she had lined up to alleviate water shortage in Nakuru are the last mile water pipe connectivity to rural households from Itare Dam once its construction resumes and the expansion of Turasha Dam in Gilgil to bolster water supply to Gilgil sub-county and Nakuru Town.
The residents, she added, are also set to benefit from multi-million collaboration between her administration and Vitens Evides International (VEI) aimed at improving water supply infrastructure within the devolved unit.
Governor Kihika said the partnership with Vitens Evides International entailed supporting Water Service Providers (WSPs) operated by the County Government to improve their operations, become financially healthy and extend their services to the urban poor.
Founded in 2005, Vitens Evides International is a leading water provider in the Netherlands and also works in twenty countries including Kenya.
Vitens Evides International is already working with the Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company Ltd (Nawassco), Nakuru Rural Water and Sanitation Company Limited (Naruwasco) and Naivasha Water, Sewerage and Sanitation Company Ltd (Naivawasco) to improve water services across the county.
The partnership will see each of the water providers in Nakuru County get at least Sh450 million to improve and revitalize service delivery.
She pledged to work with the County Assembly in formulating policies for the water sector that are geared towards improving governance in the management of water in the county.
“Now that water provision is a devolved function, I will be in liaison with the County Assembly of Nakuru to formulate better policies that will guide the water sector,” she said.
The county however falls short of adequate daily water supply with the demand estimated to be 70,000 cubic metres per day.
Data from Nakuru Urban Water and Sanitation Company, NAWASCO, indicates that the current supply stands at 40,000 cubic metres and with the town’s status already elevated to City status partnerships among utilities and other government agencies are crucial to avoid rampant rationing.
Vitens Evides International is also providing technical assistance to the Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company Ltd (Nawassco), Nakuru Rural Water and Sanitation Company Limited (Naruwasco) and Naivasha Water, Sewerage and Sanitation Company Ltd (Naivawasco) to reduce non-revenue water from an average of 54 per cent to 20 per cent.
A Non-Revenue Water (NRW) audit revealed that Nawassco, Naruwasco and Naivawasco lose more than half of their treated drinking water to leaks, theft and meter inaccuracies, resulting in monthly losses of over Shs40 million and scarcity of the commodity.
Non-Revenue Water (NRW) refers to water lost through illegal connections, inefficient or rundown supply infrastructure and malfunctioning meters. Water Services and Regulatory Board (WASREB) defines levels of NRW of under 20 per cent as good, 20-25 as acceptable and over 25 per cent as not acceptable.