Tag Archives: groundwater pollution

Will Lagos become the 12th city in the world that will likely run out of drinking water in the very near future? Depo Adenle.

The following eleven cities likely to run out of drinking water listed by the BBC are – Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Cape Town, Jakarta, Moscow, Istanbul, Mexico City, London, Tokyo and Miami.

The BBC reported that one in four of the world’s 500 largest cities, i.e. 125 cities, are in a situation of “water stress”. Lagos whose Greater Metropolis has a population of approximately 21 million according to Wikipedia is one of them. Apart from its rapidly exploding population which is due to high birth rate and huge rural urban migration in the country. The other factors responsible for making this city ‘water stress’ are point source and non-point source pollution. Both groundwater and surface water are polluted (Explain these two terms)

Lagos is a ‘water stress’ city which may become a ‘water scarce’ city because of the way its water resources is being managed. Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use. Water stress causes deterioration of fresh water resources in terms of quantity (aquifer over-exploitation, dry rivers, etc). Water scarcity is the lack of access to adequate quantities of water for human and environmental uses,

Water supply situation in Lagos metropolis has resulted in a preponderance of water vendors. It has also caused using poorly designed and constructed water supply boreholes which results in dependence on poor quality water and exposure to water borne diseases.

The following are the key factors that account for the likelihood of 11 cities running out of drinking water like Cape Town.

  • Very short rainfall season – Tokyo.
  • Poor management of a coastal limestone aquifer which causes seawater intrusion – (Biscayne Aquifer) Miami.
  • Climate change and sea level rise – Miami.
  • Inadequate planning and investments – Brazil.
  • Excessive leakages from water supply distribution network and water pollution – Bangalore.
  • Excessive pollution of surface water – Beijing.
  • Heavy pollution of the only available surface water source – Cairo.
  • Rising sea level as a result of climate change and excessive abstraction of groundwater – Jakarta.
  • Pollution problems caused by the industrial legacy of the old Soviet Union – Moscow.

Lagos shares some of the key factors listed above with the eleven cities and also suffers from pollution of surface and groundwater and a high degree of unaccounted for water(UFW) which was reported by the World Bank(2000) to be up to  63% in 1998. Unaccounted-for-water is the difference between the volume of water pumped into the distribution system and the volume of water sold or otherwise accounted-for. (Generally expressed as a percentage of total pumpage)..

Pollution of groundwater in Lagos is due to non-enforcement of the laws/regulations governing discharges of industrial wastewater into the environment and unscientific siting and construction of landfills.

The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water – like Cape Town (BBC, 11 February 2018).

Cape Town is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water.

However, the plight of the drought-hit South African city is just one extreme example of a problem that experts have long been warning about – water scarcity.

Despite covering about 70% of the Earth’s surface, water, especially drinking water, is not as plentiful as one might think. Only 3% of it is fresh.

Over one billion people lack access to water and another 2.7 billion find it scarce for at least one month of the year. A 2014 survey of the world’s 500 largest cities estimates that one in four are in a situation of “water stress”

According to UN-endorsed projections, global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030, thanks to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that Cape Town is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are the other 11 cities most likely to run out of water.

  1. São Paulo

Brazil’s financial capital and one of the 10 most populated cities in the world went through a similar ordeal to Cape Town in 2015, when the main reservoir fell below 4% capacity.

At the height of the crisis, the city of over 21.7 million inhabitants had less than 20 days of water supply and police had to escort water trucks to stop looting.

It is thought a drought that affected south-eastern Brazil between 2014 and 2017 was to blame, but a UN mission to São Paulo was critical of the state authorities “lack of proper planning and investments”.

The water crisis was deemed “finished” in 2016, but in January 2017 the main reserves were 15% below expected for the period – putting the city’s future water supply once again in doubt.

  1. Bangalore

Local officials in the southern Indian city have been bamboozled by the growth of new property developments following Bangalore’s rise as a technological hub and are struggling to manage the city’s water and sewage systems.

To make matters worse, the city’s antiquated plumbing needs an urgent upheaval; a report by the national government found that the city loses over half of its drinking water to waste.

Like China, India struggles with water pollution and Bangalore is no different: an in-depth inventory of the city’s lakes found that 85% had water that could only be used for irrigation and industrial cooling.

Not a single lake had suitable water for drinking or bathing.

  1. Beijing

The World Bank classifies water scarcity as when people in a determined location receive less than 1,000 cubic metres of fresh water per person a year.

In 2014, each of the more than 20 million inhabitants of Beijing had only 145 cubic metres.

China is home to almost 20% of the world’s population but has only 7% of the world’s fresh water.

A Columbia University study estimates that the country’s reserves declined 13% between 2000 and 2009.

And there’s also a pollution problem. Official figures from 2015 showed that 40% of Beijing’s surface water was polluted to the point of not being useful even for agriculture or industrial use.

The Chinese authorities have tried to address the problem by creating massive water diversion projects. They have also introduced educational programmes, as well as price hikes for heavy business users.

  1. Cairo

Once crucial to the establishment of one of the world’s greatest civilisations, the River Nile is struggling in modern times.

It is the source of 97% of Egypt’s water but also the destination of increasing amounts of untreated agricultural, and residential waste.

World Health Organization figures show that Egypt ranks high among lower middle-income countries in terms of the number of deaths related to water pollution.

The UN estimates critical shortages in the country by 2025.

  1. Jakarta

Like many coastal cities, the Indonesian capital faces the threat of rising sea levels.

But in Jakarta the problem has been made worse by direct human action. Because less than half of the city’s 10 million residents have access to piped water, illegal digging of wells is rife. This practice is draining the underground aquifers, almost literally deflating them.

As a consequence, about 40% of Jakarta now lies below sea level, according to World Bank estimates.

To make things worse, aquifers are not being replenished despite heavy rain because the prevalence of concrete and asphalt means that open fields cannot absorb rainfall.

  1. Moscow

One-quarter of the world’s fresh water reserves are in Russia, but the country is plagued by pollution problems caused by the industrial legacy of the Soviet era.

That is specifically worrying for Moscow, where the water supply is 70% dependent on surface water.

Official regulatory bodies admit that 35% to 60% of total drinking water reserves in Russia do not meet sanitary standards

  1. Istanbul

According to official Turkish government figures, the country is technically in a situation of a water stress, since the per capita supply fell below 1,700 cubic metres in 2016.

Local experts have warned that the situation could worsen to water scarcity by 2030.

In recent years, heavily populated areas like Istanbul (14 million inhabitants) have begun to experience shortages in the drier months.

The city’s reservoir levels declined to less than 30 percent of capacity at the beginning of 2014.

  1. Mexico City

Water shortages are nothing new for many of the 21 million inhabitants of the Mexican capital.

One in five get just a few hours from their taps a week and another 20% have running water for just part of the day.

The city imports as much as 40% of its water from distant sources but has no large-scale operation for recycling wastewater. Water losses because of problems in the pipe network are also estimated at 40%.

  1. London

Of all the cities in the world, London is not the first that springs to mind when one thinks of water shortages.

The reality is very different. With an average annual rainfall of about 600mm (less than the Paris average and only about half that of New York), London draws 80% of its water from rivers (the Thames and Lea).

According to the Greater London Authority, the city is pushing close to capacity and is likely to have supply problems by 2025 and “serious shortages” by 2040.

It looks likely that hosepipe bans could become more common in the future.

  1. Tokyo

The Japanese capital enjoys precipitation levels similar to that of Seattle on the US west coast, which has a reputation for rain. Rainfall, however, is concentrated during just four months of the year.

That water needs to be collected, as a drier-than-expected rainy season could lead to a drought. At least 750 private and public buildings in Tokyo have rainwater collection and utilisation systems.

Home to more than 30 million people, Tokyo has a water system that depends 70% on surface water (rivers, lakes, and melted snow).

Recent investment in the pipeline infrastructure aims also to reduce waste by leakage to only 3% in the near future.

  1. Miami

The US state of Florida is among the five US states most hit by rain every year. However, there is a crisis brewing in its most famous city, Miami.

An early 20th Century project to drain nearby swamps had an unforeseen result; water from the Atlantic Ocean contaminated the Biscayne Aquifer, the city’s main source of fresh water. Although the problem was detected in the 1930s, seawater still leaks in, especially because the American city has experienced faster rates of sea level rise, with water breaching underground defence barriers installed in recent decades.

Neighbouring cities are already struggling. Hallandale Beach, which is just a few miles north of Miami, had to close six of its eight wells due to saltwater intrusion.

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Threats of underground water pollution imminent in Nigeria?

The title of the article below which was published in the Daily Trust of August 26, 2015 and written by Alex Abutu based on what Mr. Michael Ale, AWDROP National President told Daily Trust, sounds alarmist as its scope is very limited compared to its content.
Groundwater pollution in Nigeria cannot and should not be mainly ascribed to the activities of foreign borehole drilling companies. It is due to a number of causes – poor borehole design by incompetent drilling companies, point-source and non-point-source pollution, unregulated waste disposal practices, unscientific design and siting of sanitary landfills, improper decommissioning of non-productive or failed boreholes, unsupervised drilling activities of oil prospecting companies, etc. to mention A few. fairly detailed summary is contained in the table provided by Canter(1981) which lists 3 major sources of groundwater pollution – Waste disposal sources, Nondisposal sources and Depletion. Please click below for the  table on major sources of Groundwater Pollution.

Major Sources of Groundwater Pollution
Major Sources of Groundwater Pollution
The article focuses on the following:
• “large format equipment which is inimical to our environment”;
• Drilling of large number of boreholes;
• Poor design of boreholes that allow infiltration of overburden water into the aquifer through the screening of the overburden casing without appropriate grouting;
• Foreign drillers operating without license;
• Too many boreholes and well interference.
These are sweeping statements which are difficult to substantiate, for example, that using large equipment is unfavorable, detrimental or adverse to our environment in Nigeria. Furthermore, drilling many boreholes per day, if scientifically located and properly designed and supervised should not cause any problem with respect to well interference or pollution.
Currently, the National Water Law has not been enacted. However, in Part X of the draft National Water Resources Act of 2011, reference is made to the Code of the Regulation of Domestic Boreholes which was developed by the National Water Resources Institute (NWRI) and the Ministry. This Code’s section 4 is on Legal Consideration.
Section 4.1 is on Drilling Permit which states “No well shall be constructed unless the owner is in possession of a valid permit to do so … Permit shall be given by relevant Agencies designated by the Minister of Water Resources.” This is fine but has no legal backing until the Water Resources Act is enacted.
Section 4.2 of the Code is on Water Well Driller’s License: Section 4.2a states “A water well driller’s license shall be obtained from NWRI on application. Section 4.2b states “No person shall construct a well for the abstraction or monitoring of groundwater or for research if the person does not have a driller’s license granted in accordance with the provisions of this code. The requirements of the driller’s license shall be applicable to any person, company, corporation, or other entity engaged in the business or occupation that involves construction of water wells that may penetrate water-bearing strata (including constructing water wells, geothermal systems and environmental monitoring wells.”
Section 4.2.1.1.1 gives an exemption to the stipulation of the Code as stated above. As mentioned earlier, the National Water Resources Act is yet to be enacted, the Code is part of the Act, consequently the alarm raised by the article concerning foreign companies using unlicensed drillers cannot be resolved at this point in time.
Comments by DEPO ADENLE.
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Threats of underground water pollution imminent
By Alex Abutu , Daily Trust, Aug 26 2015

FemaleDriller
A lady driller supervising a borehole drilling recently.
Nigeria is facing an imminent danger of underground water pollution if the activities of foreigners drilling companies are left unchecked, the Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners has alerted.
The association said at the rate the foreign companies, mostly from Asia, are operating, the nation may run out of clean drinking water in the nearest future. “Asians have infiltrated our environment with large format equipment which is inimical to our environment.”
Mr. Michael Ale, AWDROP National President, told Daily Trust that: “An average Asian drilling company operating in the country drills close to three boreholes in a day and we have about 50 of such drilling companies scattered around Nigeria with each having at least four rigs. With this calculation, an average of 400 boreholes are drilled daily and this is enormous.”
“Another major issue is the fact that the underground water is gradually being polluted by the design of drilling embarked by the Asians as most of their designs allow infiltration of overburden water into the underground aquifer through the screening of the overburden casing without appropriate grouting. We are not talking of the cheap materials used during their installation. This is sad,” Ale added.
Investigation by Daily Trust in Abuja and environs showed that there is an upsurge in the number of foreigners in the borehole drilling business.
In Masaka, a suburb near Abuja, numerous signposts advertising the foreign drilling companies abound with some engaging in promos to woo customers.
Ale noted that most of the foreign drillers are not licensed to drill, wondering who allowed them to operate in Nigeria. “Our trained drillers and experts are jobless. So the environmental, social and economic importance is being maligned by these foreigners.”
According to him, many Nigerians who drill boreholes have adequate knowledge of the terrain but the foreigners do not. “Borehole needs to last for a lifetime but conduct a search on many boreholes drilled now, it is glaring that they are affecting one another because of the approach of the drillers, many of whom are quacks that have infiltrated the industry.”
“Some people have argued that the Asians made borehole affordable to most Nigerians but is it affordability or sustainability that we should be talking about? Yes their borehole can be affordable for 2-3 years but will pack up with time. It may be affordable but the client gets contaminated water because of the drill design,” he added.
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Threats of underground water pollution imminent
By Alex Abutu , Daily Trust, Aug 26 2015
A lady driller supervising a borehole drilling recently.
Nigeria is facing an imminent danger of underground water pollution if the activities of foreigners drilling companies are left unchecked, the Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners has alerted.
The association said at the rate the foreign companies, mostly from Asia, are operating, the nation may run out of clean drinking water in the nearest future. “Asians have infiltrated our environment with large format equipment which is inimical to our environment.”
Mr. Michael Ale, AWDROP National President, told Daily Trust that: “An average Asian drilling company operating in the country drills close to three boreholes in a day and we have about 50 of such drilling companies scattered around Nigeria with each having at least four rigs. With this calculation, an average of 400 boreholes are drilled daily and this is enormous.”
“Another major issue is the fact that the underground water is gradually being polluted by the design of drilling embarked by the Asians as most of their designs allow infiltration of overburden water into the underground aquifer through the screening of the overburden casing without appropriate grouting. We are not talking of the cheap materials used during their installation. This is sad,” Ale added.
Investigation by Daily Trust in Abuja and environs showed that there is an upsurge in the number of foreigners in the borehole drilling business.
In Masaka, a suburb near Abuja, numerous signposts advertising the foreign drilling companies abound with some engaging in promos to woo customers.
Ale noted that most of the foreign drillers are not licensed to drill, wondering who allowed them to operate in Nigeria. “Our trained drillers and experts are jobless. So the environmental, social and economic importance is being maligned by these foreigners.”
According to him, many Nigerians who drill boreholes have adequate knowledge of the terrain but the foreigners do not. “Borehole needs to last for a lifetime but conduct a search on many boreholes drilled now, it is glaring that they are affecting one another because of the approach of the drillers, many of whom are quacks that have infiltrated the industry.”
“Some people have argued that the Asians made borehole affordable to most Nigerians but is it affordability or sustainability that we should be talking about? Yes their borehole can be affordable for 2-3 years but will pack up with time. It may be affordable but the client gets contaminated water because of the drill design,” he added.