Panic has gripped Nanyuki Town and its environs after an unknown powder was dumped into a river on Wednesday evening.
Water in Nanyuki River, stones and plants on its banks turned deep blue after the blue powder which was wrapped in a large paper seeped into the river.
Fearing that it could be a poisonous chemical, Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) officers in the area issued an alert warning people living downstream against using water from the river.
“We have agreed with the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and public health officials to put our heads together to find out what this chemical is and who dumped it into the river,” a WRMA official Mr Dominic Kibaya said.
“We have already collected samples and we will know whether to send them to the government chemist,” Kibaya added.
Residents operating along the river alerted government officials who traced the source of the strange colour to a big parcel weighing several kilogrammes at a temporary dumpsite on the river bank.
NOT CONSUME WATER
“As of now we don’t know what it is.
People downstream must be prevented from consuming water from this river because it could be heavy metal.
The best action is not to take the water,” Mr Kibaya said.
The vice-chairman of Nanyuki River Water Users Association Mr David Irungu mobilised the residents to look for the pollutant after people started complaining about the colouration of the water.
He said the powder which was irritating to the skin was found near a residential plot where an unauthorised garbage site was developing.
Nanyuki town residents accused some government officers charged with the responsibility of fighting pollution of sleeping on their jobs.
“We have good laws to prevent pollution but the government officers who are supposed to enforce them are not doing their job.
That is why unauthorised garbage dumps are developing on river banks,” a resident Mr Danson Mumba said.
He urged government agencies to streamline laws on pollution in order to keep the rivers clean.
Nanyuki River serves thousands of farmers and pastoralists in Laikipia county.