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 As wells dry, Zambia regulates use of groundwater

Faced with longer droughts and growing water demand, the Zambian government has introduced fees on groundwater use.

Under a new executive order that came into effect in March, owners of domestic boreholes are for the first time required to pay a one-off fee of 250 kwacha ($25) to have their well licensed. There will be no monthly or annual fees for domestic water users, but those who consume more than 10,000 litres per day will be charged a commercial fee of 5 kwacha for each additional 30 cubic metres they extract, according to the government-run Water Resource Management Authority (WARMA).

Emmanuel Mumba, a legal counsellor at WARMA, said that the utility has long been concerned about how groundwater and surface water were being managed, and prolonged droughts linked to climate change have made the situation worse. Population growth and growing water use by farming and industry also are putting pressure on the country's dwindling water resources. "We are going to be monitoring groundwater use now, because as long as it is not managed well we will run out of it," Mumba said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The utility says that 60-70 percent of water consumed in Zambia comes from groundwater. WARMA inspectors will install devices to measure water consumption and pollution levels in each borehole visited. Wells found to be leaking will be decommissioned, Mumba said. The agency already has set up observation boreholes to judge how much groundwater levels are decreasing and to measure water contamination in parts of Lusaka, he said. The Zambian government has placed water management on its economic and sustainable development agenda in its seventh national development plan, for the period 2017 to 2021, according to the Ministry of Energy and Water Development.

The ministry's permanent secretary, Ed Chomba, said at a press conference that the borehole charges would cover administrative costs and help regulate water use in the face of climate change. The new rules allow a domestic household to use an average of 10 cubic metres (10,000 litres) of water a day. Failure to register a borehole can result in a maximum fine of 30,000 kwacha ($3,000) or imprisonment for up to 12 months, according to the new rules.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation  


Päivitetty/Updated: 16.05.2018

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