Drilling for Water or Digging Up a Drought?
As I drove into the estate today, I observed that every building had a water tank, and a tank usually has a source of water. In the case an estate, a borehole does the job, so each building has drilled a hole for water. Count the hundreds of building, and you will realize how many drillings this land mass has experienced.
Abraham Adesanya Ajah Estate in Lagos isn't the only estate drilling for water, most houses on the Lekki Ajah axis are in the same drilling dilemma. Unlike many residents in some parts of Lagos with access to portable water from the Lagos state water corporation and yet still chose to drill their personal boreholes, this part of the city has no access to portable water yet, and as such residents just have to drill for some sort of water supply.
I have heard of the effects of indiscriminate drilling of boreholes on land and ground water, and imagined how soon these consequences would come knocking. In my generation or my daughters’?
My concern about the effect of boreholes on land did not start as I drove in this day. It started a long time back as a kid growing up in Aba. I remember people rushed out with every item that could store some water no matter how small, when ever someone screamed "pump agbawala". There was this family in our building popularly called " yard" who would keep mute about their water discovery. They would quietly fill every item in their apartment including the bath tubs, it didn't matter if the discovery was made late in the night, and then let other families in on their "sudden" discovery, as they enjoy watching them scrabble to make the long queue. That was how difficult getting this life necessity was back then.
Abia state water works stopped pumping in 2002. With this failure by the government to provide water and reduce the sufferings of the people, Aba people became desperate and they also became innovative. They embraced the technology that makes it possible to pump water from underground, good enough to meet their daily water needs. Back then, my little brain thought “If several holes are dug in a land, wouldn't there be a possible collapse some day, affecting the entire city of Aba? Recently, I visited Aba, and the water situation has gotten even worse, with shallow holes being drilled, unsafe water extracted, and residents plagued with health issues. So beyond the impact on land, ground water is possibly getting contaminated in this city.
Well, that was lots of years ago and I am now in Lagos, yet the story is the same. I spoke with Mr. Shayo Hollaway, Group Managing Director, Lagos State Water Corporation. He confirmed my fears. "This indiscriminate water abstraction creates a void in the water table, which could lead to land subsidence".
However, many Nigerians do not believe there are dangerous effects. Mrs Juliet lives in Ajah. She shared her thoughts with me. “It is convenient, and there is no steady water from water works”. Even though she has heard of the possible consequences, she says she would still drill her personal borehole if she had the means, instead of sharing with fellow residents. "Yes, I will prefer to have my own personal borehole, so I will stop disturbing those who have".
Watch her video