LWF has been working with WRMA and other stakeholders in various water conservation efforts including those found in the Upper Ewaso Nyiro Catchment Area. One of the challenges to water resource regulation and management is the rampant illegal water use within the basin. Last month, LWF and WRMA engaged the Laikipia County Government in addressing this issue.
A meeting at WRMA Rumuruti office between WRMA, LWF, Pesi WRUA and the Laikipia County Government office of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries on 19th November 2015 was held to discuss the fate of rehabilitated Thome Canal that was constructed without WRMA approvals and did not qualify for a permit. This project has created a tangible risk to the environment, economy and social wellbeing of communities living downstream. . This risk created is as a result of the current design of the weir that diverts all the stream flow to an irrigation canal.
Important questions that have arisen;
How do we decide who has priority over the water resources? Should commercial use of water have priority over domestic use? How do we ensure that domestic and commercial use of water does not lead to environmental degradation? The answers to these questions are provided for in the Water Resource Management Rules 2007 and the Water Act of 2007. The act states that the environment has priority over full domestic water demand.
Discussions held on 19th November 2015 concluded that corrective actions needed to be implemented to mitigate the potential risks. Immediate actions by the Laikipia County Government would facilitate this process before 2016, including modification of the weir to give priority environmental flow over any allocation to the furrow and installation of a closing device to allow WRMA to regulate the amount of water going into the furrow. There will also be midterm measures implemented to organise the users of the canal to form an association and, together with WRMA, conduct a survey to determine a suitable site for an irrigation project that will pipe water for facilities with 90 day storage and drip irrigation. This project will require a NEMA license and WRMA Authorisation before commencement of works.