HERE IS HOW NWSC HAS RESPONDED TO UNSTABLE WATER SUPPLY IN KAMPALA AND OTHER SURROUNDING DISTRICTS
By Mulengera Reporters
A recent special report carried in the Bukedde newspaper indicated acute water scarcities in the townships along the major highways leading into and out of Kampala. And their report focused on experiences shared by leaders and residents from townships like Bulenga, Bulagga and Buloba (for along Mityana Road) and then Nansana, Kayunga, Wakiso TC and Kakiri for purposes of communities along Hoima Road.
Whereas these far away townships were portrayed as the worst affected by water scarcities, resulting mainly from the prolonged dry spell the country had endured, the situation wasn’t that very much different in key Kampala city slummy suburbs (like Kisenyi, Mengo, Mutungo, Kisaasi, Masanafu, Lugala, Busega, Mulago, Katanga, Kibumbiro etc) where the urban poor live.
Painting a picture of extreme hopelessness, the news report also indicated that many community leaders were aggrieved that the price of water, for the lucky ones who had it, had risen to Shs500-1,000 per jerrycan of 20 liters. The leaders and community members quoted equally complained about water supply and availability not being reliable anymore as the same would be unavailable for as many as 4 days often being available for one day in a week and off for the rest of the days.
That they had resorted to filing all their storage facilities in anticipation of a blackout. That some residents, with limited financial means, had abandoned the NWSC-availed safe and clean water in favor of alternative natural water sources like open wells which KCCA warned are risky and unsafe for human consumption since the same is never treated through the NWSC purification processes at Gaba.
THE GOOD NEWS
NWSC chief publicist Samuel Apedel has since spoken out on the water crisis clearly explaining that the problem of water being inadequately available for the residents and dwellers of Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono and other surrounding townships will soon be a thing of the past. The NWSC, he speaks for, hasn’t been napping and, having envisaged the problem, they planned ahead and implemented a major GoU intervention by investing in increasing water production capacity.
Besides the dry spell which diminished the volumes of water available even to NWSC, Apedel says the supply too has been inadequate compared to the demand of the people of Kampala and the townships in the surrounding districts. That the current production capacity has been 240m liters yet to adequately supply everyone, a minimum of 300m liters is required. This shortfall of 60m liters has always had to be managed by the otherwise high-performing NWSC through rationing the available water. This simply means there was no way everybody would have the water supply at the same time hence the decision by NWSC to switch off certain areas to secure supply for others and vice versa.
Let’s illustrate it this way; Nansana is deliberately deprived of water for a day or two so that Bulenga or even Buloba can have it. And vice versa. That is how the NWSC has been managing with this shortfall of 60m liters. But gratefully, says Apedel, that is soon ending because with the Katosi water treatment plant (in Mukono district) coming on board, an additional 240m liters is going to be pumped into circulation and thereby creating an excess water supply. Many hope this will gradually force down the price per jerrycan leading to increased access and affordability. The current NWSC pricing of charging only Shs25/= per jerrycan (for those buying from taps) and Shs83/= for those NWSC serves directly for their residences directly (as opposed to buying from the community taps) could still be lowered even further and thereby universalizing access to safe and clean water.
Apedel explains that the Katosi water treatment plant must be operational latest by early May because everything is set including the electrification of the plant and installation of the relevant storage tanks including some at Nsumba hill where not less than 40m liters will be stored at all times (in comparison Muyenga tanks storage capacity is a mere 20m liters).
The NWSC Deputy MD (in charge of Technical Services) Eng Johnson Amayo calls on the water-consuming public to expect better times once the 240m liters capacity Katosi water treatment plant comes up because the water treatment processes will be leveraged on more modern technologies whereby the traditional approach of “treatment by sedimentation” won’t be used anymore and will be replaced with the use of “dissolved air floatation in order to deal with the problem of increasing algae on Lake Victoria.”
“Upon completion, the Katosi plant will be the first and biggest plant in East and Central Africa using the AquaDAF and AquaZur technologies,” says the DMD who also explains that the state of the art Katosi plant “will incorporate water recycling and sludge thickening to minimize plant losses and promote environmental conservation.”
The Katosi Project Manager Eng Dennis Taremwa supplements all this optimism by disclosing that by the last week of this month of April, the very first water drops will find their way into the water storage reservoirs on Nsumba hill. And Eng Alex Gisagara, who is the NWSC Director in charge of engineering services, says the systems’ testing for the new Katosi water treatment plant is already ongoing ahead of May when the whole thing must be up and running.
Eng Gisagara explains that the very final touches being put rotate around a number of project outcomes areas including testing and commissioning of different plant electrical control units. The other key accomplishments include raw water and treated water pumps being 100% installed and connected to power grid; offshore pipeline (500m) being already laid on the lake bed [with connection of the strainer being currently ongoing]; more than 8km (out of 9.5km) for the pumping main being already laid and undergoing pressure testing; final finishes on the process and none-process buildings/structures nearing completion and land scaping and greening of the plant nearing completion too.
This is the reason the NWSC management is confident that the lingering inadequate water supply problem will by May be solved once and for all leading our country to having an additional 240m liters of water being produced and made available every day. This accelerated production capacity will enable the GoU to access an additional 7.5m people to safe and clean water within the rapidly-urbanizing districts of Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono. Remarkably, this additional 240m liters of water per day will keep Ugandans in the entire Kampala Metropolitan area fully served with their water needs up to 2040 when demand is once again expected to exceed supply. That is another 19 years away and by that time, the GoU must have implemented other Katosi-like interventions to mitigate against future scarcities.
Having cost the GoU millions of dollars, the Katosi water treatment plant (now over 95% completed) comprises of the following: (a) a 500m offshore abstraction pipeline into Lake Victoria, (b) a scada system that will be integrated with the existing NWSC installations, (c) a modern laboratory to enhance water quality monitoring and management, (d) a mechanical workshop, (e) a compact wastewater treatment plant, (f) a solid waste handling and incineration facility and (g) a modern staff housing estate with modern amenities and recreation facilities.
And the other key point to note is that the Katosi water transmission network will be pumping water into the new Nsumba hill-based reservoirs (40m litres per day) through a 9.5km bulk DN1400mm pipeline. From the Nsumba reservoirs, the water will gravitate to Kampala via Mukono-Seeta-Sonde-Namugongo (through a 55km DN1400mm bulk pipeline). In order to amplify the same water project benefits, another 15m liters reservoir will be constructed in the Sonde Township besides another booster station at Namugongo. The same project also has a component to amplify water supply to the Katosi neighborhood itself, Lugazi Municipality and the surrounding areas. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).