Addressing Nigeria’s Water Pollution Crisis: The Role of Storm Water Management

By John Cee Onwualu (FNSE, FNICE, FNIWE, P.E., R.ENG)

Understanding the Environmental Challenge

Water Pollution: A Major Crisis in Nigeria

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is grappling with a severe environmental crisis – water pollution.

Despite its wealth of water resources, including rivers, lakes, and underground aquifers, the nation struggles to provide its citizens with clean and safe drinking water.

This crisis is exacerbated by poor storm water management practices in Nigerian cities.

The Role of Storm Water in Pollution

Storm water, the excess water accumulated during heavy rainfall, plays a crucial role in water pollution.

In urban areas, this water gathers pollutants such as trash, chemicals, and sediment as it flows through streets and other surfaces.

This contaminated storm water ultimately finds its way into water bodies, compromising water quality and posing a significant threat to public health.

Factors Contributing to Poor Storm Water Management

Rapid Urbanization and Infrastructure Challenges

The link between water pollution and inadequate stormwater management can be attributed to rapid urbanization and insufficient infrastructure development.

As urban populations grow, so does the demand for housing and infrastructure. Consequently, the construction of impermeable surfaces like roads and buildings impedes the natural absorption of stormwater, leading to rapid runoff and increased pollution.

Inadequate Drainage Systems

Most Nigerian cities lack adequate stormwater management systems. Existing drainage infrastructure is often outdated, poorly maintained, or nonexistent.

This deficiency exacerbates flooding, causing damage to property and exacerbating water pollution. During floods, sewage and other hazardous substances mix with stormwater, posing serious health risks.

Lack of Awareness and Enforcement

Another significant factor contributing to poor stormwater management is the lack of awareness and enforcement of environmental regulations.

Many industries and businesses in Nigeria lack proper waste management systems, resulting in the release of untreated wastewater into storm drains.

This further contaminates water sources and harms the environment and public health.

Consequences and Urgent Actions Needed

Far-Reaching Consequences

The consequences of poor stormwater management and water pollution are extensive. Contaminated water sources not only jeopardize clean drinking water, but also impact the livelihoods of communities dependent on fishing and agriculture.

Moreover, water pollution facilitates the spread of waterborne diseases, posing severe health risks, particularly to vulnerable populations.

Linking the upstream and downstream stormwater channels at Owa-Alero in Ika Notth East L.G.A, Delta State
Linking the upstream and downstream stormwater channels at Owa-Alero in Ika Notth East L.G.A, Delta State

Urgent Action Required

To address the nexus between water pollution and inadequate stormwater management, immediate action is imperative.

The government must invest in upgrading existing drainage systems and constructing new ones to manage stormwater effectively.

Strict enforcement of environmental regulations is necessary to ensure compliance with waste management practices.

In addition, public education campaigns are essential to foster responsible behaviour among citizens.

Conclusion: Collaborative Efforts for a Sustainable Future

In conclusion, the interconnection between water pollution and poor stormwater management poses a significant threat to Nigeria’s environment and public health.

Addressing this complex issue requires coordinated efforts from the government, industries, and citizens. Only through collective action can we safeguard clean and safe water for future generations.


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