The Minister of Water Resources, Malam Suleiman Adamu, says one of the most important ways to tackle proliferation of boreholes in Nigeria is to put in place efficient municipal water supply system.
Adamu also called for standard regulations to reduce the proliferation of boreholes.
The minister who was answering questions as a guest on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum in Abuja on Sunday said efficient municipal water supply is essential.
“If there is efficient municipal supply, if the water supply schemes, and all urban schemes are working, there will be no need to drill boreholes.
“You can take delivery of water through your pipe into your house regularly and efficiently, then there is no reason for anybody to have a borehole,” Adamu added.
He said the enforcing standard regulations was not meant to stifle but to regulate the activities of borehole drillers.
The minister said that when regulations were in place, licenses could be issued to ascertain how much water was being abstracted.
Adamu explained that there is bound to be “interference” in a situation whereby everybody was drilling a borehole at his backyard in a small building.
“If they are running these boreholes at the same time, there will be interference and one borehole will dry up for the other to have water.
“If one pump is more powerful than the other one, the other one will not get the water. So you have wasted your investment,” he said.
Adamu said what is needed is to get an independent credible regulator to support urban water.
“What we need is for states to support, and maybe subsequently, when we get a credible and independent regulator, then the private sector can come in and support urban water provision.
“Once we improve on the delivery of water supply in the urban centers, then that will be fine,” he said.
Adamu said that rural areas, due to their economy of scale and small population, did not need more than a borehole or an open well.
He said that even in some developed countries, there are still rural communities where they don’t have pipe borne water
“It doesn’t mean that every village must have pipe borne water but what is important is that they must have potable water.
“If it’s a well, let it be protected, because groundwater, if there isn’t any underground contamination, is usually a good source of water.
“It was only when I became a minister that I started hearing of industrial boreholes. But, now I understand industrial boreholes. We have so many bottling and beverage companies having 8 to 12 diameters of boreholes,” Adamu said.
He accused the companies of taking water as if it is an underground river adding that they are mining the water because they are taking it at the expense of individual Nigerians.
“Probably what we need is not more than 2,000 to 3,000 gallons a day, maybe they take 50, 100 and 200 million gallons a day and that is not acceptable, that is why it has to be regulated.
“People that are taking water for commercial purposes, they are making money out of it, and they are depriving, they are depleting the resource.
“So, there ought to be a penalty and everywhere in the world, this happens,” the minister said.
Adamu said one of the false narratives being put forward on the National Water Resources Bill is that the Federal Government is going to take control and everybody must come to Federal Government to drill a borehole.
“The same way that state government gives planning approval for houses, they should handle the issue of approving boreholes.
“We have the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency in this country, which is responsible for monitoring and managing our surface and ground water resources.
“But nobody can tell you the number of boreholes that exist in this country. So, we don’t even know how we’re abstracting the water,” he said.
Adamu expressed the hope that at least Nigeria could have a standard regulation on how such water was sold and licenses could be issued to know how much water was being abstracted.
“We are protecting the water, making it available for everybody so that there is equitable distribution, and that at the end of the day, we have enough to leave for our children and grandchildren as well.
“What are we leaving for our children if we don’t monitor and manage this groundwater?,” he asked.