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Please Assist Prevent Environmental Disasters That May Follow if Northern Collector Tunnel (NCT) in Aberdares Region-Kenya is Constructed In Its Proposed Form. 

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NCT Technical Committee Report 

A.1 BACKGROUND

a) The Northern Collector Tunnel Phase-I is the second of sequenced projects under Water Supply Master Plan (2012-2035) to Nairobi City and Satellite towns. It is designed to convey 140,000 m3/day during 90% of the year from Maragua, Irati and Gikigie rivers into Ndakaini Dam in Murang’a County and eventually to Nairobi.

b) The Government of Murang’a appreciates that water is a shared national resource with Nairobi and other counties, under certain circumstances cross basin transfers fulfil an important role, but in case of NCT-1 transfer scheme and others still on the drawing board it is doubtful. Moreover, previous transfer from Thika River caused a disproportionate amount of damage in relation to the scheme benefits and social and economic impacts, especially for the source catchment in Murang’a

c) Efficient management of water is extremely important in Kenya since water resources are very limited. Poor choices today could mean that targeted and local populations continue to suffer from inadequate and unreliable water supply. Allocation outside the County must uphold the right of Murang’a to fair share of water resources

 

A.2 PROJECT VALIDATION

The Murang’a Leaders Forum convening in Golden Palm Hotel, Makuyu on January 21st 2015 noted that NCT project exerts considerable pressures on water resources and probably disadvantages Murang’a County. The forum resolved to appoint an Independent Technical Committee to examine pertinent issues arising, which include but not limited to ensuring that the project;

i) Does not adversely reduce or affect river flows and levels of the underground water level

ii) Does not result to any adverse ecological or micro-climatic effect on the environment.

iii) Does not adversely affect current and projected water and irrigation demands in the County

iv) Demonstrate in practical terms the benefits to Murang’a County and especially address the water needs of Murang’a people, and finally

 

v) Clarifies who should control benefits and how it is shared and priced.

 

A.3 FINDINGS OF THE COMMITTEE

A.3.1. Limitation of Consultation process

During EIA consultation, repeatedly in public and other organised forums, the project proponents described an inaccurate situation, and suggested that only flood water will be tapped. The committee observed that;

i) Flood water is generally defined as flows more than Q80 while NCT-1 will abstract over Q954, which in the proponents own admission will results to conditions similar to flow during prolonged drought.

ii) Athi Water Services Board disregarded recommendations/caution of their own feasibility studies, indeed the public and stakeholders were not made aware of the precautions

Therefore, consultation process was technically flawed, hence misleading.

A.3.2 Compliance to statutory requirements

Athi Water Services Board awarded contract for construction work in September 2014, yet;

i) NEMA license was granted in February 2015; however conditions set out in the license have not been achieved to the best of information available to Committee.

ii) Application for water abstraction permit is still under process as at April 2015

iii) This action is goes against the provision under Section 42(1) of Environmental Management and Coordination Act and Water Act

27(1).

Consequently, and to this extent the committee finds that;

+ Project activities are in violation of established law

+ The project risks loss of public funds by contractual claims occasioned by delayed site possession or in event statutory authorization is not successful

+ Alternatively, the proponent considers these legal requirement ineffectual and mere formalities

 

A.3.3 Impacts on flows downstream and Ground water

 

Assessment of river hydrology finds that NCT-1 will result to significant reduction in downstream flows in the three rivers and unacceptable negative impacts downstream of the intakes;

a) Project will have long-term impacts 336,877 people in Murang’a who use the three rivers

b) Combined normal flow (Q80) in the three rivers is 267,800 m3/day while

NCT average abstraction is 259,200 m3/day, implying that NCT project will divert more than 97% of the river flow during 90% of the year

c) The upper catchment of Irati, Maragua and Gikigie contributes 64% of the low during dry season, meaning the downstream region is highly dependent on flows to be diverted for NCT

d) NCT abstraction as currently designed will result to 60% or approximately 216 days every year with zero or extremely low flow downstream.

e) If Reserve Flows are limited to the release of Q95 or even 2xQ95, no investment in flood storage (dam) along the Irati, Gikigie and Maragua

Rivers will be possible and any existing systems will no longer be viable

 

f) Information available to the committee reveal that hydrogeological investigation has not completed however drawings evidence from similar projects tunnelling may result to changes in the underground drainage and drying of springs and river

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