The responsibility for potable water service provision in urban settlement rests with NAWEC, whose activities are largely limited to the Greater Banjul Area and the 10 Provincial Growth Centers. As such regulation of water services provided by NAWEC fall under the mandate of PURA as specified in the PURA Act of 2001.
The sector is under review in terms of legislation and a Water Bill in has been drafted by the Ministry of Water Resources. It is anticipated that with this new legislation in place the challenges associated with repair and replacement of existing infrastructure would be accelerated alongside the demand for water in rural and remote areas through universal service obligations as well as meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
Water in the Greater Banjul Area is obtained from underground sources. Chlorine is used to used to disinfect all incoming water from the boreholes prior to distribution.
Since it is only NAWEC that provides water in urban areas, PURA’s activities have been mainly focsued on ensuring water quality standards are adhered to. This is to ensure that safe drinking water is supplied to the population at all times and that associated water facilities, i.e. tanks, boreholes, treatment plants are well maintained and protected from contaminants/pollutants.
Through stringent monitoring of the water services, it is envisaged to set early warning and reporting of poor drinking water standard and hence reduce the risk of epidemics associated with poor water quality.
It is in this vein that on the 13th of May 2009, PURA signed an Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to outsource the water quality monitoring to their Abuko Lab.
The key areas of cooperation contained in the MOU amongst others are as follows:
- to have PURA provide partial funding for testing of taps, wells, tanks, and other potable water points in the country;
- that DWR Abuko Laboratory will conduct quarterly tests nationally as determined and agreed to by both parties;
- to have DWR provide test results of the laboratory and their interpretations to PURA;
- to exchange technical assistance through the organisation of technical missions and short-and-medium duration training sessions;
- to jointly work on building the capacities of both parties in the area of potable water quality management;
PURA has adopted the WHO Drinking Water standards and the main test parameters are;
- Bacteriological (Thermo-tolerant Fecal and total coliform)
- Residual Chlorine.
- Physico-chemical parameters (pH, Odour, Temperature, Electrical conductivity, Total dissolved solids and salinity)
- Chemical parameters (Nitrate, Sulphate, Phosphate, Fluoride, Copper and Total iron)
The tests are conducted every quarter by the Abuko Labs sampling 82 water points throughout The Gambia. The pictures below show a typical utility borehole installation (left) and a chlorine cylinders directly injecting the gas for disinfection.
The picture of the far right shows the staff of the Abuko lab doing a routine water analysis.
In addition to water quality monitoring PURA has drafted a Guideline for minimum Quality of Service for Water Services is currently engaging stakeholders for comments.
Although The Gambia is blessed with good and abundant water resources, prudent use of water and reduction of wastage and leaks is equally important especially for consumers. PURA has been sensitizing consumer on Water Saving tips through the media.