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City residents who depend on boreholes risk going without water

Friday, March 1st, 2024 21:01 | By
City residents who depend on borehole water risk going without water
WRA Chief Executive Officer, Mohamed Shurie, flanked by board chair, Donald Murgor. PHOTO/George Kebaso

Kenyans, especially city residents who depend on the numerous boreholes in residential areas for water supply risk going without the commodity if vendors and owners of those sources have their water abstraction permits expired by today.

An estimated 31, 551 companies and individuals are on the spot for engaging in illegal water abstraction activities.

Subsequently, they risk heavy penalties of a fine not exceeding Ksh1 million, a jail term not exceeding two years or both a fine and imprisonment.

Such companies or individuals holding expired water permits have 30 days from today, to renew, failure to which, disconnection of the water works and prosecution of the owner will be executed without further notice.

On Friday, WRA Chief Executive Officer, Mohamed Shurie, warned businesses abstracting water without up-to-date permits risk facing the wrath of the Water Act, 2016 (147).

“Members of the public with expired permits or without a valid permit from WRA are required to visit designated WRA offices in their areas to renew their expired permit and regularise their abstractions with the authority within 30 days from the date of notice,” Shurie said.

This requirement extends to landlords and leaseholders who are operating water abstraction works mostly boreholes and wells without permits from the authority.

Shurie said unfortunately, despite the existence of the law, some permit holders, contractors or borehole owners have failed to submit to WRA the permit renewal documents, and other records as provided for in the Water Act, 2016.

“It is brought to the attention of the public that under Section 36 of the Water Act, 2016, a permit is required for any of the water use purposes namely; any use of water from water resources from both surface and groundwater, the drainage of any swamp or other land; the discharge of a pollutant into any water resources; and any other purpose to be carried out in or in relation to a water resource, which is prescribed by regulations made under the Act to be a purpose for which a permit is required,” he said.

He urged every individual to embrace the responsibility of conserving and protecting these essential ecosystems.

Shurie noted that Kenya being a water-scarce country - considering the ever-increasing demand for water resources for the increasing human population and other various – this has brought about increasing competition from various water uses hence the need to have strict regulation over access and use.

However, there has also been a spike in cases of non-compliance in most instances that have led to the authorities taking up legal actions against the lawbreakers.

For instance, on February 26 2024, the Court of Appeal awarded WRA a sum of approximately Ksh649.4 million against Krystalline Salt Ltd for failure to pay water use charges for water abstraction. This was after Fredrick Chege Kamwene was found guilty of contempt of court and contravening court orders on permitting and slapped with a penalty of Ksh200,000 or a one-month jail term on October 23, 2023.

“More other cases are in court and our appeal is for water users to comply with the law,” he said.

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