By Daniel Salka Audu

Whether one is concerned with irrigation, flood loss mitigation, urban and suburban drainage, energy production, industrial and domestic water supply, health, drought mitigation or preservation of aquatic ecosystems, water resources is essential to all human activity.

This necessitates stable and sustainable operations and a commitment to water resources assessment which is indeed a prerequisite for the sustainable development and management of water resources.

Although this is the responsibility of the national government, many elements of such an assessment are undertaken at the provincial level.

In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, water passes through a lot of purification before it gets to the public. Firstly, raw water is drawn from the Gurara Water to the Lower Usuma dam that stores water during the rainy season, but there are streams that service the dam.

The raw water moves to the water treatment plant and it is purified with alum, and clarifiers also assist in cleaning the water. After treatment the water is then sent to the tanks where it is stored as treated water before it is distributed to consumers. There are about seven tanks spread across the districts including the Airport and even as far as Gwagwalada.

There is now the Greater Abuja Water Works, being handled by the FCDA where we can notice large pipes being laid in mostly areas that don’t have water hitherto.

In Abuja, not all the districts have water though, because the initial design was made to cater for mainly residents of the city centre. It was not envisaged that the population would grow exponentially, many driven by insecurity from their states, so not all areas have water supply.

There is a certain capacity of water that is being sent to the town per hour. For instance, 13,000 cubic meter per hour is released. But with aging infrastructures, for instance, pipes that were buried over 30 years ago that are corroded, it is common to have issues like pipe burst due to pressure on a daily basis.

Then the challenge of leakages. These are multi-dimensional, but there are issues of illegal connection to the main trunks and this reduces the pressure of water. This is common in high density areas of the FCT.

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And then there is theft of materials, e.g. valves. In fact, in Abuja any iron seen by scavengers is fair game for scavengers. So there are leakages from such places hence waste therefrom. But there is swift response once notice is given.

There are 17 area offices in the FCT, therefore operational vehicles are not suffecient enough and is another challenge.

There has, however, been substantial increase in revenue collection from water in the FCT. Hitherto there has been a slack but with the new drive through prompt distribution of bills and reminders to customers to come and pay.

From N178 million monthly, the FCT Water Board now records more than a N300 million monthly as revenue, thanks to the new team on revenue, the other is on illegal connections.

There is zero tolerance to corruption because staff may connive with customers to circumvent rules through sharp practices.

Of course, the FCT Water Board Establisment Act 2017 has been signed into law, it is in operation and being implemented currently. The Act would enable the board to transition to a corporate entity in line with international best practices.

FCT residents that consume water should know that government spends a lot to produce this water. One cubic of water is equivalent to five drums, and a cubic meter is sold for just N110, treated water for that matter.

Therefore, residents should continue to pay their bills so that government can continue to produce more potable water.

• Daniel Salka Audu, Ag. General Manager, FCT Water Board, writes from Abuja.