The demand for boreholes in Kenya, has been increasing steadily over the last ten years. This has been driven mainly by the effects of climate change, which has seen a drop in the rains received, and has caused unreliable whether patterns in the East African Region. The increase in population in our cities and towns has also put a strain on the water supplied by the various water bodies, which are yet to increase their infrastructure to match the increase in demand.
Boreholes have therefore become an answer to the water challenge, by allowing us to tap the ground water, which can be used both domestically and commercially. Below are five steps that anyone interested in sinking a borehole in Kenya needs to follow:
1 Conduct a Hydrogeological Survey
A hydrogeological survey is an exercise where a qualified and registered Hydrogeologist conducts a geophysical survey on the client’s parcel of land. The purpose of this survey is to ascertain the availability of ground water on the said parcel of land and the estimated depth of drilling. The survey also helps to ascertain the exact point of sinking the borehole. The identified drilling point is marked both physically and also using coordinates which are taken during the survey.
2 Application for permits to Drill a Borehole from relevant Government bodies
In Kenya, Ground water resources are managed by the Water Resources Authority, which is a body established under the Water Act. The prospective Client needs to make an application to the Water Resources Authority for an authorization to drill a borehole.
The prospective Client also needs to make a similar application to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). NEMA is established under the Environmental Management and Coordination Act. Their role in regards to borehole drilling is to evaluate the impact of the project on the environment.
Once the client has obtained the above two permits/Licenses, they are then submitted to the local county government for the final permit. It is important to note that various approval fees are charged by the different bodies.
The prospective client may opt to follow up on the permits by themselves or contract the hydrogeologist to make the applications on their behalf at a fee after they conduct the hydrogeological survey.
3 Sourcing and contracting of a borehole contractor.
It is important to source for a qualified and experienced drilling contractor. One of the ways of establishing the competency of a drilling contractor, is by checking whether they are licensed and listed on the Kenya Gazette by the Ministry of Water and Sanitation. While sourcing for a drilling contractor, the client should focus more on the competency and trustworthy references of a contractor, rather than price.
Be on the lookout for contractors who offer rates that are way below the market price, as they are more likely to take shortcuts. Others also offer rates that seem cheaper, but leave out of their quotes essential services, such as Test Pumping, which the client has to pay for later.
However, there are many competent and trustworthy drilling contractors who offer quality services to their clients.
4 Site preparation
The greatest challenge experienced by contractors is lack of adequate site preparation. This, not only causes delays in undertaking the project, but may also lead to extra charges to the client.
Site preparation mainly entails, ensuring that the drilling point is accessible and the working area is adequate and free from all hazards. For example, if the site is in an already constructed area, it is important to ensure that there is sufficient space for the entry and exit of the heavy drilling equipment. Some gates are usually too small to allow entry of the equipment, and many a times, they have to be pulled down first. In other instances, there are power lines that are either directly above or too close to the drilling site thus causing a hazard when the mast for the drilling rig is raised.
It is therefore imperative, that the client makes prior arrangements with the power company to either move or temporarily disconnect the power lines for the duration of the project. The greatest challenge however, is caused by the rains that make access roads impassable.
To avoid these challenges it is always good to have the drilling contractor visit the site way before the drilling project commences. This allows the drilling contractor to advise the client on any adjustments that need to be made before they can mobilize to the site.
Having undertaken the above steps the prospective client is now ready to start the borehole drilling project.