Electricity bills have for a long time dealt a death blow to many water projects due to the huge bills that need to be paid to Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC). Many community projects have collapsed after members failed to pay the bills. County water companies have found themselves facing the same predicament after power is disconnected and people go without water.
This is the problem that Mundika Water Scheme in Busia Municipality, Busia County used to face until a solution in the form of solar energy to create a hybrid system. Busia Water CEC Dr. Isaac Alukwe says the scheme used to attract a monthly bill of over KSh 3 million, noting that with the introduction of the new system the County Government of Busia will make a saving of 50 per cent in bills paid to KPLC. “The hybrid system is now the way to go for the County Government in order to cut on annual electricity bills that amount to about Kshs. 300 million from its water schemes across the county,” Dr Alukwe said.
The hybrid system entails pumping water using solar power during the day and electricity at night. This has brought relief to town residents who could go without water for a couple of days due to power cuts owing to unpaid power bills. The scheme serves about 65,000 people, an equivalent of 7,500 households, in Matayos and Teso South Sub Counties within Busia Municipality who are now enjoying uninterrupted water supply. The CEC says although the project’s initial design was to cover 7,500 households, it was only serving 2,500 households.
The Kshs. 45m project funded by the World Bank through the Kenya Devolution Support Programme (KDSP) also involved rehabilitation of the waterworks, revenue automation and repair of damaged pipes for Busia Water and Sewerage Services Company (BUWASSCO).
The Kshs. 20m hybrid system was installed by Davis and Shirtliff, another Kshs. 20m went towards revenue automation of the Water Company and Kshs. 5m for repairs and rehabilitation on the damaged pipes that lay within the service area of the company. Dr Alukwe says the Mundika hybrid system is the first among many that the department wants to roll out across the county to cushion against skyrocketing electricity bills, noting that Butula water project is the second to be converted into a hybrid system.