Athi Water adopts mobile water treatment units to bridge supply gap during emergencies

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Leading water and solar equipment manufacturer Davis and Shirtliff has partnered with the Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) on a Ksh46m ($509695) project to equip the water services provider with 16 mobile containerized water treatment units to meet the need for innovative and robust solutions to emergency situations.

The increasing unreliability of rainfall in Kenya has meant that residents of counties where water access is below the national average of 48.5 percent – as per the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) report – have to go for longer distances in search of water from sources whose safety is often not assured.

“One of the major challenges that we face in our jurisdiction is ensuring access to clean and safe water during adverse weather. In order to plug the gap in supply, we have had to source for alternatives to the traditional sources of water which have become unreliable,” said Eng. John Muiruri, Chief Manager, Capital Planning and Engineering Services at AWSB.

The solution to this challenge came from Davis and Shirtliff who following a competitive bidding process was awarded the contract that saw the equipment manufacturer deliver cost-effective and highly mobile water treatment units able to process virtually any kind of polluted raw water and turn it into clean drinking water through the use of reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration technologies.

“Within a very short period, the equipment can be assembled for use even in the most remote of locations to treat either saline, turbid or highly mineralized water. With the solar and diesel electric generators options provided with the mobile water treatment units, sophisticated electricity provision will not hamper water provision efforts,” said Alec Davis, CEO of Davis and Shirtliff.

This incorporation of alternative power sources for the water mobile water treatment units was in response to the concern by AWSB that numerous boreholes become idle due to the high cost of pumping water by electricity.

Of the 16 mobile containerized water treatment units supplied to by Davis and Shirtliff, 10 run on solar and are rated to produce 600 litres of clean drinking water in an hour and are best suited for communities in rural areas due to its portability. The remaining six are operated by diesel generators that recharge a battery bank for alternate use and produce clean drinking water at a rate of 5,000 litres per hour to larger communities.

As the provision of basic services is under the management of county governments, AWSB will hand over the mobile water treatment units to governors in its areas of jurisdiction, which include Kajiado, Machakos, Kitui, Makueni, Nairobi and Kiambu, and will be in operation before the end of the year.

Through the mobile water treatment units, AWSB will provide Kenyans with clean and safe drinking water at a cost of not more than two shillings for 20 litres. This is however expected to be different in informal settlements, where the service will be priced at a slightly lower rate than prevailing rates so as to protect the livelihoods of existing water vendors.

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