Water Resources Authority raises alarm over illegal dams in the country
The Water Resources Authority is appealing to dam owners and dam operators to comply with dam safety regulations in tandem with the Water Resources Regulations 2021. This has been precipitated by the rising number of cases of inaccessibility to the dam sites for inspections, noncompliance with permitting conditions and payment of water use fees associated with these structures, lack of proper records for existing dams including non-licensed dams. These cases have in the past brought about dam failures leading to massive loss of lives, properties, and other adverse socioeconomic impacts.
The mandate of the Authority is to regulate dam development through permits so as to reduce risks associated with dam failure; the authority carries out periodic inspections within stipulated timelines to ensure compliance with the laws.
In a workshop that convened dam owners and operators on dam safety sensitization, the WRA Chairman Hon Kuntai Kool reiterated that compliance with WRR 2021 is a statutory requirement and as such, all the illegal dams should be registered and inspection of the existing structures carried out using the registered dam experts with immediate effect.
In his address, WRA CEO Mr Mohamed Shurie informed the stakeholders that the procedures and legislation as well as laws (the constitution of Kenya 2010, Water Act 2016, the water policy, Practice manuals for design, Water Harvesting and Storage Regulations, 2021 and the Water Resources Regulations 2021) should be used as a reference point in the development and management of dams.
Dams in Kenya are developed for different functions including water supply for domestic and industrial purposes, irrigation, hydroelectric power production and flood control. The development of dams for different purposes is important to the socioeconomic development of the country. Of the 3050 estimated dams in the Country, 50 are high risk (class SD3), 83 are medium risk (SD2) and 2917 are low risk (class SD1).
In the event of damage or failure, dam owners are expected to submit interim dam damage or failure report to WRA.
All stakeholders were urged to collaborate within the legal framework to adequately mitigate against dam failures and related incidences and ensure dam safety with respect to the Water Resources Regulations 2021 and Water Harvesting and Storage Regulations, 2021 upon receipt of permits.
The Chairman further assured the stakeholders of the Authority’s commitment to providing the public and the environmental managers with guidance in order to mitigate risks associated with dam failure.