Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sewerage, fertilizer pollution choking River Galana – KMFRI

Fishermen pushing their boat at River Galana which passes through Tsavo East National park. Research shows pollution is affecting the river. 
River Galana in Coast region of Kenya is highly polluted following a direct input of sewerage and fertilizer into the river, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) research has said.
The finding follows a research carried by KMFRI in the river following complains by the management of Galana ADC farm regarding the water quality and recurrence of algae blooms in their farms for the last two years after using the water.
Researchers carried out investigation by analyzing samples collected in sites like Darajani in Galana ADC ranch, Sala gate and Tsavo East National Park.
“The results showed high levels of E. coli bacteria which pointed to discharge of raw sewerage into the water system and high levels of phosphates, nitrates and ammonia which can be attributed to use of fertilizers in agricultural activities upstream,” the research institute said in a press release.
Dr. Joseph Kamau, KMFRI’s researcher and Edward Waiyaki, a socio-economist say the pollution will affect fish population in the river, create scarcity of clean drinking water which will cause vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ailments among the community members which could directly be linked to the E. coli bacteria.
“Algae blooms occur as a result of excessive input of nutrients into the aquatic system from human activities with some species certain usually attaching themselves to the fish gills and thus compete for oxygen”, said Dr. Kamau.
Although the finding couldn’t attribute to any recorded fish kills as a result of harmful algae bloom but it says its high level can kill fish due to suffocation especially in instances where there are low levels of dissolved oxygen in water.
“We recommend interventions in prudent agricultural practices by creating buffer zones between farms and river banks, treatment of sewerage before discharge into the rivers and creating public awareness to enable the community take precautions to avoid health complications,” KMFRI says.
To further protect River Galana aquatic life KMFRI says it will embark on a comprehensive research upstream to determine the points of release of the identified inputs and advise the relevant government agencies to enforce the relevant laws and ensure sound management.
© Manuel Odeny, 2012

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