Hyacinth raises water treatment expenses


Workers at Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company water treatment plant in Dunga on January 28. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NMG

The hyacinth infestation on Lake Victoria has increased the cost of water treatment and purification by more than 30 per cent.

According to Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company, the firm spends an additional Sh700,000 a month since last October on the treatment of the contaminated water.

Managing Director Thomas Odongo told the Business Daily that the company incurs the extra costs to ensure that the water drawn from the lake meets the Kenya Bureau of Standards specifications.

“The hyacinth has been affecting the quality of water. We have been forced to use more chemicals to treat it making water expensive for the residents of Kisumu,” said Mr Odongo.

“The weed … interferes with oxidation, blocks the air from coming into the water and therefore we have to aerate the water every day to curb the effects of the hyacinth.”

Mr Odongo added that the weed is also a breeding ground for reptiles that pose a danger to divers involved in its clearance.

He warned that the situation could get worse as the weed start rotting and sinks, causing the water in the lake to have a foul smell and colour.

Dunga treatment plant produces 20,000 cubic metres of water per day, said Mr Odongo.

The water supplier last week also issued an alert over a high presence of iron due to the hyacinth on Lake Victoria.

The company warned residents against treating the piped water, saying this could lead to discolouration of the water.

However, the company assured Kisumu residents that the water supplied for domestic use is safe.

Kisumu residents consume 37,000 cubic metres of water a day or 13.5 billion cubic metres annually.

The alert by the water company comes in the wake of plans to rid the lake of the weed and silt for easy navigation.

Two weeks ago, the African Union special envoy for transport and infrastructure Raila Odinga launched a dredging exercise as well as removal of the water hyacinth from Lake Victoria.

He said the move would pave the way for smooth functioning of Kisumu port, which had been neglected for years.

Mr Odongo said the dredging had come at the right time because the silt adversely affects water extraction at the company’s Dunga plant.

He said the water firm had been looking for Sh6 million to expand the extraction point further into the lake where there is less siltation.

“If the lake shore is dredged, there will be no need for us to extend the intake farther into the lake,” said Mr Odongo.