Pollution, biggest challenge to groundwater management – FG

Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, has listed pollution through human sources as a major challenge to effective groundwater management in the country.

Adamu, at a sensitisation walk in commemoration of the 2022 World Water day in Abuja, said groundwater was the primary source of drinking water for half of the world’s population.

Adamu, represented by the Director General, Nigeria Hydrological Survey Agency, Mr Clement Nze, said reliance to groundwater was greater as climate change, rapid population growth and industrialisation placed considerable stress to meeting water demands.

He said borehole water supply schemes were the preferred option in water supply, saying unfortunately, groundwater, a major sustenance of human life has a very low percentage in the World Water Budget.

“In view of the above, the situation in this country is worrisome due to the uncoordinated manner in which boreholes are drilled all over the country.

“Individual boreholes are the order of the day, for instance, the situation in Gwarimpa where virtually every compound has its own borehole all tapping the same aquifer.

“This is without regard to possible adverse effect of depletion of the aquifer and land subsidence.

“This scenario plays out in many cities in the country from Maiduguri to Kano to Sokoto to 9th Mile Corner, Enugu State etc.

“The greatest challenge to groundwater in Nigeria is Pollution, unfortunately, human beings through our actions are the greatest enemy to Groundwater in spite of the fact that our lives virtually depend on it,’’ Adamu said.

The minister said Petroleum exploitation in the Niger Delta part of the country has led to leakage of petroleum products into aquifers in some places due to improper drilling practices, oil spills and leakages.

He said gas flaring was also responsible for acidic rain with adverse effects on house roofs and rainwater harvesting.

Adamu said the discharge of industrial effluents into bare soil, rivers and streams with little or no treatment was worrisome.

“Groundwater pollution also includes the use of agro-chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides) in agriculture; also, septic tanks and pit latrines provide pathways for groundwater contamination.

“Mining and quarrying activities. Heavy metals, Lead, Mercury, etc. washed into aquifers, we recall the lead poisoning in Zamfara State (Anka and Bukkuyan).

“Also, over abstraction of groundwater in some areas like Chad-Basin, 9th Mile Corner, Enugu due to mainly urbanisation and rural-urban migration, Saline water intrusion into coastal aquifers and some continental aquifers are major issues.’’

On the way forward, the minister said there was need for coordination and synergy on borehole drilling activities nationwide including monitoring and evaluation in quantity and quality by all Stakeholders.

He called for the full implementation of the National Water Well Drilling Code to curtail and if possible eliminate the activities of quacks in the profession of Hydrogeology.

He advised that proper records on all drilled boreholes nationwide by government, communities and individuals should be kept and forwarded to the ministry.

He said such records can also be shared with designated custodian for the National Hydrogeological Database in order to facilitate completion of the Hydrogeological Mapping of Nigeria.

Adamu said that appropriate measures should be taken to ameliorate the environmental and socioeconomic impact of climate change on groundwater resources.

He said the Federal Government had set up groundwater monitoring networks to effectively observe and monitor groundwater level fluctuation, its quality, and ascertain the estimate of recharge and discharge basins of the country.

The network, he said had a total number of 77 monitoring boreholes, of which 44 are currently functional.

He said that the agency was in collaboration with other organisations in providing support to increasing the density of the groundwater monitoring network.

In a related development, the minister also inaugurated a hygiene facility in Government Secondary School, Karamajiji, FCT.

The theme for this year’s World Water Day is “Groundwater: Making the Invisible visible’’. 

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