By Joan Ejembi
As the world marks the World River Day today, an Owerri, Nigeria based Non Governmental Organization(NGO), Rural Africa Water Development Project (RAWDP), has lamented the persistent failure to regulate and take advantage of the work that healthy watersheds perform naturally.
This was as it emphasized that the development is currently overwhelming the ability of public water agencies to mitigate catchment sourced contaminants at a fraction of the cost of conventional treatment and guaranty safe drinking water to water consumers.
In a press statement issued by Dr. Joachim Ezeji, which Global Sentinel obtained, the NGO noted that the World Rivers Day strives to increase public awareness of the importance of our rivers or waterways as well as the many threats confronting them.
“In Nigeria, over a score of urban water agencies depend on rivers and other surface water bodies for their raw water intakes. But many of these rivers are currently under unregulated threat from inadequate catchment management.
“Rivers are integral to all life. Yet, many waterways continue to face an array of threats and are often impacted by inappropriate practices and inadequate protection,” the statement reads in part.
It further noted that, World Rivers Day complemented the UN’s Water for Life Decade and groups such as the United Nations University and the International Network on Water, Environment and Health remain valued supporters.
RAWDP explained that it highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and hopefully encourage the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.
The NGO said with many of the world’s rivers facing increasing pressures associated with climate change, pollution, and industrial development, more than 70 countries are participating in this year’s festivities.
Highlighting the lineup of events to mark the event, the NGO said many events around the world will focus on educational and public awareness activities while others will include river cleanups, habitat restoration projects and community riverside celebrations.
“Rivers in every country face an array of threats, and only our active involvement will ensure their health in the years ahead. In Nigeria, as well as other parts of the world, agriculture poses the greatest threat based on the enormous amount of fertilizer (organic and inorganic) used on commercial and private farms.
“The result is widespread Nitrates, a by-product of nitrogen-based farm fertilizer, animal manure, wastewater and leaky septic tanks. On top of these are wasteful and inefficient agricultural practices, including very low knowledge of fertilization application. For example, it was observed that many vegetable farmers can apply as much fertilizer as they want, within feet of the river.
“For example, the Otammiri River is the primary raw water source for the Imo State Water Corporation (ISWC), a public water supply agency. The Corporation supplies drinking water to the residents of Owerri, the capital city of the State. It is also one of the many rivers in the larger Anambra-Imo River basin.
“However, upstream agriculture and deforestation activities have continued to diminish the ability of the river to continue to play this role in the future. Also, combination of intensive agriculture and deforestation, in addition to sand mining and residential activities continued to pose enormous threat to the over 2 million Owerri residents who depend on ISWC for their long term water needs,” the statement further stated.
This was as it encouraged the public to come out and participate in the event by engaging in a stream cleanup, or community riverside celebration.