Safety of our drinking water.
Do we ever give thought to the safety of our drinking water? If the answer is yes, then this makes our collective experience with water not very different from that of hundreds of millions of people across the world who lack access to clean water. Right?
Several times in a year, water supply to major Kenyan cities get interrupted for days because of pipe bursts, causing water pollution. Chemicals from industries that don’t treat their effluent properly also find its way to water sources and contaminating the water supply.
While the circumstances in each situation leading to contamination may differ in different areas, they have a notable similarities.
. Pollution not adequately treated by the local water plants.
. Activities in or near the communities caused or partially caused by human, for example mismanagement of waste, throwing waste in open areas.
. Upstream industrial spill; polluted runoff, including from agriculture.
While the country has made huge strides in reducing water pollution, and the statutes have set great goals to ensure safety, it all depends on states and the National Environmental Management Authority to make a follow up to keep the water clean. They underscore the imperative of ensuring that clean water policies are fully implemented and strengthened where necessary.
But, is the regulating body doing enough to ensure this safety?
Threats are not static and neither is the environment. Polluted runoff is now a primary focus- runoff from homes, farms, streets, factories is a major problem across the country and more difficult to control because of its ubiquity. Floods caused by heavy rains in parts of the country also cause contamination of water.
Climate change also plays part by warming the water, resulting in more algae blooms.
The national Environmental body will do more than just regulate. They are required to follow a water management approach that uses natural systems like wetland and green buffers to reduce runoff, enhance water supply and improve community aesthetic.
If we ignore the weaknesses in our current approaches to safeguarding our drinking water supplies, we take a significant risk.