Borehole Regulations in Kenya: Safeguarding our Water Future

borehole regulations in kenya

Borehole regulations in Kenya play a vital role in safeguarding our groundwater resources for current and future generations. By adhering to these regulations and fostering responsible water management practices, we can ensure the sustainability of this invaluable natural resource, paving the way for a water-secure future in Kenya.

This blog post delves into the key provisions of the borehole regulations in Kenya and highlights the significance of responsible groundwater management.

Borehole Regulation in Kenya

According to the Water act 2016 which was operationalised by the  “Water Resources Regulations, 2021” 

Before commencing borehole drilling, The following reports and permits are needed.

Hydrogeological survey

This survey plays a pivotal role in determining the drilling point, assessing the rock structure, and estimating the water availability below the surface. The type of rock structure identified will influence the drilling costs, while the amount of water discovered provides crucial insights into the depth required for drilling.

By conducting a comprehensive hydrogeological survey, you can make informed decisions, ensuring efficient and cost-effective borehole drilling while maximizing the potential for accessing an adequate water supply.

If you are content with the Hydrogeological survey report, the next step involves applying for the necessary permits and reports, as four permits are required before drilling a borehole, even on private property. These permits are: 

Water Resource Authority (WRA) Permit

Upon confirming the presence of water on your property, you must apply for a drilling permit from the WRA. This permit is essential to proceed with the borehole drilling process.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA):

An EIA report examines the potential effects of a project on the environment, identifying both positive and negative impacts on people and the surroundings. The purpose of this assessment is to ensure responsible environmental management.

NEMA (National Environment Management Authority of Kenya) Permit

The EIA report must receive approval from NEMA authorities before issuing the permit. NEMA evaluates the proposed drilling project to ensure that it will not have detrimental effects on the immediate environment. Once satisfied, NEMA grants the necessary license.

Letter of No Objection

As part of the devolution process, before commencing the project, you will also need a letter of no objection from the local water service providers and obtain a county permit. These ensure that the project aligns with local regulations and does not conflict with existing water management initiatives.

Upon obtaining these four permits and the letter of no objection, you can proceed with the borehole drilling.

What is the role of borehole regulations? 

1. Hydrogeological Survey Report for Motorized Pump Equipped Boreholes:

When equipping a borehole with a motorized pump, the owner must submit a Hydrogeological Survey Report along with the application. This report, outlined in the Fourth Schedule of the water act 2016, assesses the geological characteristics and potential impacts of the borehole on the surrounding environment. By mandating this report, the regulations aim to make informed decisions that balance water use and conservation.

2. Replacement, Deepening, or Widening of Boreholes

According to the water Act, before replacing, deepening, or widening an existing borehole, the owner must seek authorization from the Authority. This requirement ensures that any modifications to the borehole are conducted responsibly, with consideration for water availability and environmental impacts.

3. Addressing Down Hole Problems

Water Resources Regulations 2021 requires that , in the event of encountering down hole problems during drilling, the owner must drill a replacement borehole within fifteen meters from the approved site. The approval of the Authority is essential before moving to a new site. These measures prevent unnecessary depletion of groundwater and preserve the aquifer’s integrity.

4. Allocation Plans for Aquifers

The Authority establishes allocation plans for aquifers or parts thereof, taking into account factors like existing borehole spacing, water quality, aquifer use, surface water bodies, and other relevant considerations. These plans are made accessible to the public, fostering transparency and community awareness about groundwater allocation.

5. Test Pumping Requirements:

According to Water Resources Regulations 2021, Boreholes equipped with motorized pumps undergo test pumping, consisting of continuous pumping for at least 24 hours and recovery for 20 hours. The data obtained from these tests helps determine the borehole’s sustainable yield, aiding in responsible water usage.

6. Qualified Supervision during Borehole Construction:

The Water Act 2016, requires that, to ensure proper construction, boreholes equipped with motorized pumps must be supervised by qualified and licensed water sector professionals. This requirement minimizes the risk of construction errors and ensures boreholes are compliant with regulations.

7. Completion Record Submission:

Upon completing borehole or well construction, the applicant must submit a completion record to the Authority within twenty-eight days. This record provides crucial data about the borehole and helps in evaluating compliance with regulations.

8. Protection of Wellhead Areas:

Borehole owners are required to reserve a wellhead protection area within a ten-meter radius to safeguard groundwater from potential contamination due to nearby activities.

9. Artificial Groundwater Recharge Authorization:

Construction works for artificial groundwater recharge require authorization from the Authority. Applicants must provide technical and Hydrogeological Assessment Reports, ensuring that recharge projects are well-planned and do not harm groundwater resources.

10. Groundwater Information Sharing:

The Authority may request abstraction, water level, water quality, or other specified information from permit holders or operators to ensure compliance with regulations and protect groundwater resources.

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