River Supplying Thousands With Drinking Water Turns Green [PHOTOS]

  • Athi River at Fourteen Falls
    Athi River at Fourteen Falls.
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  • UPDATE: The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) on Friday, February 5, addressed water pollution to a section of River Athi in Nairobi.

    The agency deployed enforcement officers and assured that those who were behind the illegal waste disposal would be brought to book.

    "Thank you friends of Nairobi National Park for raising the matter on the water pollution incident, NEMA and KWS have sent an enforcement team to the site and we assure you and the public that immediate enforcement action will be taken," NEMA stated on February 5, 2021.

    NEMA enforcement team on a site evaluation extent of water pollution on February 5, 2020.
    NEMA enforcement team on a site evaluation extent of water pollution on February 5, 2020.
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    NEMA

    Alarm has been raised over the contamination of the Athi River with sections of it turning green due to the heavy pollution of the major water source.

    The troubling situation is attributed to the disposal of sewage into Kenya's second-largest river. 

    Hotspots for the were fourteen falls where the once pristine falls are no longer a sight to behold due to the discolouration of the water and the foul smell from the effluent in the river's waters.

    A section of Athi River at Fourteen falls
    A section of Athi River at Fourteen falls
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    "Green slime is painting these beautiful rocks where fresh water once flowed. Pollution from upstream industries and sewers yet someone is drawing a salary to protect our environment," one Pauline Warui noted on her visit to the falls on January 31, 2020. 

    "This is fourteen falls, the smells here are bad, it's not worth a picnic site anymore...Something needs to be done on pollution," another Kenyan noted.

    The same situation was reported in Athi Dam which is situated at the Nairobi National Park.

    "I have many reports of stinking pollutants in Athi Dam Nairobi National Park affecting hippos, crocodiles, fish, antelopes, predators, wading birds. Citizens are begging for action to be taken against offenders," Wildlife Direct CEO Paula Kahumbu stated.

    Effluent dumped at Athi Dam in Nairobi
    Effluent dumped at Athi Dam in Nairobi
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    The river provides water for household needs for thousands of households downstream including drinking water.

    Its waters also support agricultural activities in a number of counties including Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Makueni, Machakos Counties and some parts of Kitui County where food crops like legumes, maize and fruits are grown in upper as well as middle Athi.

    Other crops are cotton in Machakos County in the east of Nairobi are cashewnuts, coconut and mangoes are grown in the coastal region of Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa. Bananas are grown in Kiambu, Kwale and Taita Taveta Counties. Sisal is also grown in Makueni, Taita Taveta and Kilifi Counties.

    Previous reports have cited pollution mainly from major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Thika, Kiambu, Machakos, and Athi River constituting major sources of pollution due to raw/partially treated domestic waste, industrial discharges, and poor solid waste disposal.

    An illustration of pollution sources along Athi River
    An illustration of pollution sources along Athi River
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    Government intervention

    The government has on its part commenced the cleaning of the Athi River waters ahead of the completion of the Thwake Multipurpose dam in Makueni and Kitui counties.

    The dam which will draw water from the river is set to provide 150,000 cubic metres of water for domestic use in Makueni, Kitui and Machakos counties and it will also be the main source of water for Konza city

     It is expected to also produce 20 megawatts of hydroelectricity which will enhance manufacturing while over 100,000 acres of land will be put under irrigation.

    Water PS Joseph Irungu stated that the cleanup efforts would commence from the river source in Ondiri swamp in Kiambu county together with Nairobi river, a tributary.

    “Athi River is the main source of water for the dam. Unfortunately, it’s the most polluted. However, it will be cleaned as we promised because we are not doing a dam to hold sewage, but a dam to provide clean and safe water for Kenyans,” he noted.

    Athi River at Fourteen Falls
    Athi River at Fourteen Falls
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