Longer term plan includes constructing water lines that will get water from Karuma destined for Gulu, but with branch-off systems at six towns along the way
Members of Parliament sitting on the Natural Resources Commit were last week enchanted by news that Gulu’s water crisis may soon to be history after the country’s national water monopoly told them they had found a more reliable source of source, under the ground.
progress made towards averting water crisis during their tour of water projects in Gulu.
In December last year, following a prolonged dry spell, taps ran dry in Gulu municipality after the existing dams dried up. This forced workers at the National Water and Sewerage Corporation into a tight corner as the bulging population of the town demanded for more water.
This week however, NWSC executives told MPs who were on a tour of the water facilities in the town that after scratching their heads, they found the biggest underground well they’ve ever discovered right in the centre of town.
“While we were looking for strategic places to drill water, we didn’t know that we have water on our land within the town at bank lane,” said Eng. Johnson Amayo, the Deputy Managing Director of National Water and Sewerage Corporation.
Amayo said that in May this year, the company injected Ushs 274 million to drill a borehole 137 meters deep at the site behind Kakanyero hotel. The motorized borehole was commissioned on Wednesday with capacity to produce 50,000 litres of water per hour. NWSC engineers said the site has the largest volume of water ever discovered anywhere in Uganda so far.
The borehole targets to supply areas of senior quarters, Kitgum road, and Alur road in Gulu town through pumping enough water to their main supply tanks. The discovery of the underground well is seen as a welcome supplement to the town’s water needs as it can help to meet about a third of the population’s water needs in a given day.
National Water and Sewerage Corporation also launched a new project dubbed Gulu Water Supply and Sanitation with the aim of improving water and sewer services in the municipality and surrounding areas.
The contract valued worth Ushs 82bn, was awarded to a Chinese firm, Weihai International Economic and Technical Cooperation Company limited and is expected to take 18 months. The contractors are already on site and work has commenced to upgrade and expand the existing water treatment plant to increase production capacity from 4million liters to 10million liters of water per day.
According to Eng. Amayo, the rapid increase in population in major towns across Uganda where National Water supplies water has strained the existing water and sanitation infrastructure hence a need for expansion and establishment of new facilities.
“Over the last four years, we have experienced rapid population growth in Northern Uganda that demands our service. We now want to refurbish the existing water treatment units, build new water treatment line, upgrade and replace existing electro-mechanical equipment and construct a new chemical house.”
Eng. Amayo told the MPs during the meeting in Gulu that the water crisis that lasted for over three months early this year were due to a prolonged drought that requires proactive measure to prevent re-occurrence.
Stephen Gang, the Gulu Water area manager told our reporter that a new dam dubbed Oitino 2 was constructed two months ago when the existing Oitino 1 ran dry due to the drought.
The dam has a capacity to hold 3million liters that can supply Gulu for only a day.
“The good thing with this dam (Oitino 2) is that it has an inflow that can refill itself within a day,” says Gang.
Oitino 2 was constructed at about Ushs50million to supplement the supply by Oitino 1.
The water works where the treatment plant exists is about 7kilometers from the two dams. National water hence pumps over 4 million liters of water from the dam and distributes it to the town.
Eng Amayo says that the expansion and refurbishment project will increase the capacity of the two dams to produce over ten million litres of water.
“When we do this project, we will be able to expand the facility to produce ten million liters of water and part of the water will be pumped from Oitino 2.” He adds.
Nwoya County MP Simon Oyet, who represented the chairperson Natural Resources Committee of Parliament at the tour appreciated NWSC’s efforts saying they have shown that it is possible and profitable to have a national corporation. NWSC is one of the few remaining utilities and businesses. Others being Post bank and Posta Uganda to name a few.
Oyet said: “We know that water is life. That is why we are here to support the initiative to have water services for our people and you are our pride. ”
National Water as it the water monopoly is famously known, has a long term plan of constructing a bulk water transmission pipeline with a new intake along the River Nile at Karuma to supply water to Gulu including branch off systems at six small towns and a number of rural growth centres en-route to Gulu from Karuma. This development is expected to improve the volume of water supplied to consumers to 30,000m3 per day.