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Do we have any information or a position on the underground lake found in the Turkana region of Kenya?

I've been asked if we know more of this and if this changes anything in terms of providing WASH to the surrounding regions?

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I would council caution on this. I have tried to find the science behind the "underground lake" (which is not a lake as you might imagine a lake at the surface but a porous rock mass filled with water, otherwise known as an aquifer) and note that the "discovery" is based on a combination of remotely-sensed data. Nothing at all wrong with that as a starting point but you cannot construct any kind of a plan for a water source that has not been proved by groundtruthing (such as drilling several boreholes and conducting hydraulic and quality testing, and possibly also some surface and/or downhole geophysics, depending on the complexity of the terrain). It seems that some of this work has started, given the findings that at least some of it is too saline to be used without treatment. Furthermore, irrespective of the quality consideration, the volume of available water is generally far smaller than the volume of water present in the aquifer and its exploitation needs to be managed and planned so that overexploitation (annual extraction in excess of annual recharge) doesn't lead to a second water crisis. This claim (of a vast reserve of water) is of a similar nature to that made for Eastern Chad (bordering Darfur) back in 2004 (see - yet that region is still water poor (despite the inference in the article to which I have provided a link). I was not, at the time, able to understand the physical logic behind the claims for Eastern Chad (fractured rock terrain with very limited opportunity for water to accumulate in the strata). The meaningful water supplies found by the Oxfam team, of which I was a part, were in different strata than those identified by these radar techniques. So, I would be surprised if this made any difference to the approach of the WASH teams in Kenya (it certainly didn't in Chad, or not while I was there). Incidentally, these kind of claims of massive, untapped, underground water sources are common everywhere. I currently advise colleagues in the Australian Government on groundwater matters and this chestnut regularly rises to the top!

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View the following article 'Tests Show Kenya's Turkana Water Unfit for Consumption'. Can be found here:

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2015-11-26 06:33:52 -0500
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Dec 04 '15