The Federal Government, yesterday, hinted of plans to regulate the drilling of boreholes for potable water in municipal and urban centres across the country.
Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, who spoke at the seventh edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration scorecard series (2015-2023), categorically stated that Abuja and Lagos have no need for boreholes.
He said in the Federal Capital Territory, drillng of over 100,000 boreholes were ongoing, saying it was wrong to have boreholes indiscriminately executed without government regulations given the threats to the environment. He, however, said the law would not apply to villages and rural communities.
“We are in a country where there is not regulations or standards for boreholes. We are not saying you cannot build a boreholes in your house because we cannot do without boreholes, especially in villages, but we cannot have then in municipals and urban areas and we have no business having boreholes in Abuja and Lagos. We have fresh water of 1,800 cubic meters per Capital supply so we are not a water scarce country what we just need is equitable distribution. So what we need is to see more investment by seed and water is organic thing and investment must outpace the population growth. What we need to do now is to take our water supply facility to the current population without doing that we will not get there and these safety where are adopting is to make it possible.
“What we want is to be able to know where the boreholes are and we are not saying the federal government is the one to give permit for drilling boreholes we just want it to fall under a national safety code and guidelines so that hydrological services will have all the data it needs. There is a situation NIHSA put boreholes in their budget for water monitoring, but it gets cut out by the National Assembly because they don’t understand the importance. In Abuja, I heard over 100,000 boreholes are being drilled and it’s a huge concern and I hope FCT and states will be able to step up their monitoring so that we get away with these boreholes.”
The minister said the planned law for the regulation of boreholes would codify the framework for commercial borehole regulation by incorporating the regulators at state level while providing a universal country-wide regulatory framework and standards.
Brushing aside opposition to the National Water Resources Bill, the minister insisted the new legislation was legal and constitutional.
He said the new water resources law would protect the rights of citizens to use water for domestic purposes, without charge.
He said the new water resources law was a constitutional matter as it is “a compendium of existing Acts to actualise Integrated Water Resources Management strategies, as stipulated by the National Water Resources Policy…
“You cannot say that this River Niger (is within your state) and so, you’re in charge…it cuts across everywhere and it’s a clear demonstration of why the Federal Government should be the custodian of interstate waters. This issue is even in the 1963 constitution. Go and check. These are existing laws and they are in this Bill.
“The takeaways are that the water regulation for the water resources sector, as stipulated in the Water Resources Management Commission, established in 2007, not 2017. We want it to be independent so that nobody interferes with the Commission’s decision. The Commission will empower the people to have a say in whatever decision. If we have to build a dam, today, the Commission will have to go to the people, in the catchment community. They will hold a town hall meeting and discuss with them, explain to them what it is about.
“If they say no, that project cannot take off. The minister does not have the power to say you must implement this project. The president doesn’t not have the power.
“Secondly, for the farmers, we want to empower them so that farmers will not rely on government for irrigation. Thirdly, it’s to introduce a fund so that states can benefit from this fund, to be able to afford water supply and sanitation projects; for service delivery to the people.
Lastly, we can bring in the private sector, to support water supply services delivery in the country. “
Adamu insisted that in the new water resources law, there would be public trusteeship of water, while section 3 deals extensively with the citizens’ entitlement to water.