02 August 2007

Just another typical day

Only in Kampala can the water turn green and it still be okay to drink (so they want us to believe).

Here is the front page story from today's newspaper.

City water turns green
THE colour of tap water in Kampala has turned green in the past one week, National Water officials have said, adding, however, that the colour-change has no effect on people’s health.

“We apologise to Parliament and the public,” Dr William Muhairwe, the managing director of National Water and Sewerage Corporation, said on Tuesday. He was appearing before Parliament’s Natural Resources Committee to defend the 2007/08 budgetary estimates for his corporation, the body in charge of providing safe water and sewerage services in the country.

“The change of colour is seasonal,” Dr Muhairwe said. “This kind of problem happens twice in a year because of change of weather.” The water boss said, however, that the public should not worry because the water has been treated and is safe for drinking.

“The colour quality notwithstanding,” Dr Muhairwe said, “the bacteriological quality of the water complies with the national drinking water guidelines and the water is indeed safe for consumption. So don’t bother about the colour.” Some 70 per cent of 1.8 million Kampalans have access to tap water.

A statement from Kampala Water posted yesterday on the National Water website attributed the deterioration in colour quality to the “intense algal bloom in the Inner Murchison Bay, which is the raw water source for Kampala's water supply”. Algae are microscopic plants or plant-like organisms that live in water or damp areas.

They flourish in lakes and ponds with poor water flow, especially during the hot months of the year. When conditions are right, blue-green algae can multiply and accumulate rapidly, causing a "bloom”. The algae-rich water may turn neon green, blue-green, or reddish-brown, producing bad smell or taste.

Said Dr Muhairwe: “We now have a problem because we are using more chemicals to treat the water, which is expensive. Because of the colour, there are also problems in processing and the time taken.”

In its statement, Kampala Water, which is directly in charged of delivering clean water to the city, attributed shortages in parts of the city on production interruptions at the new Gaba III Water Treatment Plant that is under a “commissioning and defects monitoring phase”. Dr Muhairwe said the water colour problem would continue up to September.
The chief manager of National Water’s engineering services, Mr Alex Gisagara, told MPs that the corporation will extend pipes deeper into the lake so as to suck cleaner water even if the algae appear again.

By yesterday afternoon, some residents in Kitintale, a residential neighbourhood in Kampala, were fearing to wash their clothes in the greenish water, thinking the clothes would lose colour.

Others contemplated adding chemicals to the water to restore colourlessness.
“People should not add any chemicals to the water because the water they get from National Water and Sewerage Corporation has chemicals already,” said Ms Miriam Kadaga, the National Water principal publicist. “What they can do is boil the water and leave it at that.”

This is not the first time the colour of water has become an issue. In April, about 3,000 feet of Lake Victoria’s shoreline at Kitibulu Bay in Entebbe changed colour to a vegetable green as a result of accumulated algae, giving off a pungent smell.

Experts feared at the time that the colour change was a lake-wide problem. The algae reportedly caused massive fish kills, especially at Kitinda Landing Site in Entebbe. Some water experts say the problem stems from Lake Victoria itself, the major source of water for Kampala, which has transformed from clear fresh water to weed-choked, greenish water.

The algae use up oxygen in the water, killing fish, said Dr Nicholas Azza, the assistant commissioner of water resources in the Ministry of Water and Environment.
Researchers say the lake has eutrophied, meaning excess plant nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen have made the lake fertile to the growth of algal blooms. Untreated effluents from industries like fish factories and flower farms around the lake, among other factors, have also contributed to the problem.

According to its website, National Water provides water and sewerage services in 22 towns with a population of 2.4 million people, representing 75 percent of the large urban centres. Not all the water, however, comes from Lake Victoria.


Lena said...

The color seems a little fishy but another very interesting approach is how they compare it to the water in lake victoria that was green and smelled bad. Im thinking they figured that if it doesn't smell bad they are okay...The question is...how's your water smell?

KELLY said...

I don't think putting lemon is the water is going to help with this one......drink up!