REVEALED! Why Ndakaini Dam remains on a dry spell.

The situation of Ndakaini Dam as seen by the Capital FM investigative team on Wednesday. Things have not really changed, at least on the eye, as open ground usually submerged under the waters still lay bar. PHOTO COURTESY.

Kenyans continue to demand answers over what exactly is ailing Ndakaini Dam and how it got so ‘scared’ of their rants on social media that all of a sudden, the water levels have started to rise.

An investigative team by Capital FM News on Wednesday unraveled the mystery, exposing ‘top secret’ information, detailing how the dam, which supplies more than 80% of water to Nairobi County has been run down to its knees.

During this reporter’s previous visit to the dam on April 24, the water levels were said to be at 33.8% and had only risen from 30%, some three days before.

But according to Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company in Ndakaini, the water levels had risen to 40.29% by Wednesday morning, an increase of 6.68% for the past one week.

According to this reporter, the Ndakaini dam had its lowest water levels in March 2017 at 14.8 million m3 that equates to 21%. The lowest levels this year was 21.2 million m3 at 30%, on April 10, this year.

It is good to note that the country started receiving heavy rains in March. But if the current trend continues, the authorities at Ndakaini say they expect the dam will build higher volumes to above 60 percent by mid-July.

The dam’s catchment area measures 75km2, which consists of Kimakia and Gatare natural forests which form Aberdare Ranges.

Illegal connections.

While one may think water is not a sensitive topic, most locals were fear-stricken and only gave information in bits, withholding the bulk.

As suspected by Kenyans, the Capital FM News report confirms that there have been leakages in the dam, illegal connections and vandalism.

Some people have made illegal connections while others have diverted the water entering or leaving the dam. They could have a reason, according to an argument advanced by locals, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“You journalists should investigate what happens between Ndakaini dam and Ng’ethe treating plant…” one local told this investigative reporter.

“You see, we only host the dam but we have never been beneficiaries of this water. No one really cares about the dam since we have more problems than the residents of Nairobi,” another local told him.

According to a report seen by the Capital FM News team, the structural design of Ndakaini dam hampers high volume storage of water.

“Low-level storage available …infrastructure development has been left behind due to the structural adjustment programs of the 1990s when donor funds were suspended due to governance matters,” the report states.

The Dam construction was undertaken under the Third Nairobi Water Supply Project between 1989 and 1994.

But the reason why no expansion or structural adjustments have not been made, according to the report, they no longer receive donor funds “due to governance matters.”

The report does not, however, indicate when funding of the “1990s adjustments programmes” was stopped and the governance issues raised.

The initial project was co-financed by the World Bank, ADB, European Investment Bank and the Kenya Government among others at an estimated total cost of Sh2 Billion.

Poor rains in the Aberdare catchment.

Another problem why rationing is far from over, the water received in Nairobi according to the report is also supplied, “to the hinterland of Githunguri, Kiambu, Ruaka, Ruiru, Juja, Athi River EPZ etc.” 

The three rivers supplying water to Ndakaini dam; Githika, Thika and Kayuyu that are fed by tributaries streaming-in from the Aberdare ranges.

But the report cites degradation of the catchment area as another issue coupled with the effects of climate change.

“A lot of rainfall has so far fallen in Nairobi and Southern part of Rift Valley but there have been poor rains in the Aberdare catchment,” it reads.

‘Mysterious dams ‘upstream Ndakaini.

A satellite image of what’s been sold as two dams, upstream, allegedly “privately owned” and fed by one of the rivers supplying water to Ndakaini dam, has caused a stir on social media with a section of Kenyans reaching the conclusion that it could be the cause of the water shortage.

But according to a reliable senior official at the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, the dams exist but they are not privately owned as alleged. The official, who did not want to be named “since all the information should come from the headquarters” says “it is a natural cause of a river.”

He says, as the river heads to the dam, “it forms pools, more so like the two areas, that comes after a fall.”

According to him, some officials have visited the said areas and confirmed, “that the water has not been diverted for future use.”

Among other measures, the report recommends “encouragement of rainwater harvesting.”

Rain Water harvesting at Lake Kirubi.

Rain Water harvesting at Lake Kirubi- a 200,000 cubic meters dam, named after business mogul Dr Chris Kirubi, and it is full capacity. PHOTO COURTESY.
It is a 200,000m3 dam, named after business mogul Dr. Chris Kirubi, and it is full capacity.

It is a world apart in terms of its capacity compared to that of Ndakaini, as it is within the same area, where they have been receiving equal amount of rainfall according to metrological reports.

The dam according to David King’ori used to have a capacity of 135,000m3 but has since been expanded, but it is how they collect the water, may leave many puzzled.

The expansive farm, which falls under Bendor Estate Limited, has depressions where rainwater used to flood, rendering tens of acres useless, but not anymore.

“We are getting a lot of water from a section of the land which has been flooding. We have constructed underground tunnels to channel the water to our dam,” King’ori said.

Huge terraces that run down to the dam can be seen, and according to King’ori, “the dam has been receiving plenty of water for the last two weeks.”

“Dr. Kirubi is the man behind this idea. He insisted that we must harvest the rainwater flooding in this land.”

And just like many Kenyans, King’ori cannot comprehend why Ndakaini dam, even with three rivers supplying water to it, is not yet full.

Meteorological Report.

The County Meteorological report handed to NCWSC also calls for rainwater harvesting.

“As noted on climate change aspects, there is need to enhance rainwater harvesting on both roof catchment and surface runoff,” the report by Paul Murage, Murang’a County Director Meteorological services reads.

According to the report, “the daily reported rainfall amounts on the upper zone including the Aberdares has led to increased percolation and thus less surface runoff to the rivers.”

But it points out, even with the challenges raised, the Aberdare catchment has been receiving low rainfall levels between the month of March and May and increase in October-December.

The trend has been recorded between 2015 and 2017.

About Ndakaini dam.

The dam is operated by the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company.

Water from the dam is usually conveyed through a system of tunnels running from the dam, tapping Kiama River and Kimakia River and diverting the flows to Chania River at the Mwagu Outfall.
Water is tapped from Chania River at Mwagu and conveyed via a tunnel to the Mataara chamber from where it’s conveyed by pipelines to Ngethu water production plant.
(Source: Capital FM News)

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