Lekki Water Crisis

A look into the Lekki water crisis 

Sometime ago I visited a friend who lives at Lekki. I asked to use the toilet down stairs, but my friend said no and invited me to use the one upstairs instead. This piqued my interest and I had to ask why.

The floor tiles were badly broken and that wasn’t the first time they were being fixed. The toilet was unusable because of the back filling from the soak away he informed me, somewhat embarrassed. He first thought it was due to bad plumbing, but later he realized it was due to the contaminated ground water in the area. The soak away filled up too quickly and had actually collapsed twice from influx of ground water.

I opened the tap to wash my hands, the water looked like Lipton tea and I couldn’t even wash my hands with it. I wondered why, despite the high prices of real estate in the area, getting clean water was still a luxury. Obtaining water from tankers seems to be the norm for those whose boreholes are not deep enough to pump clean water. Even water from boreholes are in many places never used for cooking, let alone drinking. Yet the whole area is surrounded by water…

With 10 lagoons spanning 210km, Lagos state is rightly dubbed the city of aquatic splendor. The Lagos and Lekki Lagoons are the major ones and  the state requires about 570 million gallons of water per day. Shockingly, less than 40% of that volume is being supplied.

Our focus is however on the Lekki area. Why is the water obtained from this location the way it is? Is the contamination due to human activity or is it due to the topography and geology? 

Experts say the topography of Lekki is between 3-15m above sea level. The geology consists of quaternary alluvial deposits such as red-yellow, red-brown, grey and sandy clays, silt, sand, gravels, and other detrital material. 

Compared to Nigerian Drinking Water Quality Standards (NDWQS),the table below shows the tests conducted on the Lekki groundwater.

S/N Parameter Unit Results Mean NDWQS Safe
1 Calcium mg/l 12.72 -19.50 16.11 300 Conformed
2 Magnesium mg/l 1.44-3.97 2.71 0.20 Non
3 Chloride mg/l 179 – 266 222 250 Conformed
4 Sulphate mg/l 1.31 -2.29 1.80 100 Conformed
5 Nitrate mg/l 0.52-1.02 0.77 50 Conformed
6 Iron mg/l 0.56-0.79 0.66 0.30 Non

The concentration of Fe (0.66mg/l) is above the prescribed limits of 0.3mg/l for drinking water standards, which gives a reddish-brown colour to the water. Since chloride-rich minerals are not found in the area, the possible explanation for higher concentrations of chloride in the groundwater could be caused by pollution sources such of domestic wastewater and septic tanks. Furthermore, the permanent hardness of the water is caused by the combination of Calcium, Magnesium, Sulphate and Chloride and this also accounts for its high salinity.

The enrichment of TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) and Chloride in the area is also possible because of the effect of urban waste waters.

What the technical jargon is trying to say is that both domestic and industrial pollutants are largely responsible for the water quality found in most parts of Lekki. Although residents in private estates like Nicon Town, Northern Foreshore, Friends Colony, VGC seem to have found a better way to deal with the water problem, the vast majority will have to grapple with the water crisis for some time until the Lagos state government undertakes the task of providing adequate potable water. A good place to start is the rehabilitation of the Lekki and Badore water works as well as expansion of reticulation across the entire area.

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