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Brace for high water bills as state draws new rules

THE STAR 08/25/2021

Water Resources Regulations 2021 sets stage for increase in water levies

A dry tap on Lamu island. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
A dry tap on Lamu island. Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

The government has proposed new rules on the use of water resources, setting the stage for high water bills should MPs approve the bid.

The new rules drawn by Water CS Sicily Kariuki seek to introduce various levies that water users will pay to the Water Resources Authority, popularly known as Warma.

The Water Resources Regulations Bill, 2021, will come into force upon ratification by MPs who have seized the matter through the Committee on Delegated Legislation.

“Where the authority discovers that a permit holder, or a person who is required to have a water permit, has not paid water use charges, the authority may charge arrears,” the rules read.

The cheapest permit would cost users Sh2,000 for activities deemed to be of low risk of impacting a water resource.

Those likely to have the potential to make a significant impact on the water resource will attract Sh20,000 as permit fees – being applicable for water companies.

Those whose activities have a significant impact will pay Sh40,000 while persons whose activities involve two water catchment areas will acquire permits at Sh80,000.

The permits would apply across the board, including domestic households that have sunk boreholes in their respective residences.

“In the event that the water abstracted exceeds the permitted amounts by over five per cent, the excess shall be charged at a penalty rate of Sh10 per cubic metre,” the regulation says.

For those in groundwater conservation and protected areas, an additional 10 per cent charge shall be added to the water use charges.

Late payment for water use charges will attract a simple interest charge of two per cent per month until the whole amount is paid in full.

“Failure to pay the appropriate water use charges is a breach of the conditions of a permit and may be a basis for the revocation or suspension of the permit.”

Water use charges will be levied on the basis of the water abstracted, diverted, obstructed or used, including energy derived from a water resource.

In addition to the water use charge, a levy amounting to five per cent of the monthly water use charge will be paid as a water conservation levy.

The new rules will apply to persons who construct a temporary abstraction for construction, divert water from its course, abstraction from surface water, and abstraction from a borehole or shallow well.

Persons seeking to construct dams and water pans in their farms will be required to pay the water use charges – a situation that is likely to affect aquaculture farmers who have fish ponds.

Firms and households will also acquire permits for liquid waste “including the effluent discharged, disposed or emitted into the environment, likely to adversely impact on a water resource.”

Permits would also be needed for one to drain a swamp, marsh or wetland, obstruct water, construct in a river, hydropower generation and exploit seawater for salt production.

Sand harvesters would also be required to secure permits for their activities, so would be the case of those conducting water sports.

“Permits would apply for non-consumptive utilisation involving recreational activities, including training exercises, if routinely carried out by a group of persons either formally or informally organised,” the rules read.

Kenyans with land adjacent to rivers, seas and oceans would also require a permit to construct boundary walls adjoining a water body, retaining walls, dykes and similar structures.

It would also be illegal to dredge water bodies or dump debris or waste materials into a water resource as well recreation of land on account a water body or seabed has receded.

Permits would also be required for extraction of geothermal resources as well as drilling, tunnelling, use of explosives, excavation, quarrying in areas near a water resource.

Offences under the Water Act 2016 attract a fine of not more than Sh1 million or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.

In the same vein, individuals and agencies will be required to seek approval of the authority and secure permits for varying water use; changing point of use; and modification of abstractions.

Permits will also be varied for mixing water covered under different permits, deepening, widening or modifications to an existing well or borehole or any waterworks.

“Any application for a new permit or amendment of an existing permit shall not be considered if the permit holder has arrears,” the rules read.

Edited by A.N

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