It is not hard to tell a person who was born and bred in and around Arusha. Most of them have colored teeth and many children in some areas suffer from rickets.
The cause of such shortcomings is the local water sources reported to have high concentrations of fluoride, a chemical believed to corrode teeth, coat their enamel with brown film and soften bones, leading to bow-legged children and adults.
In addressing the problem, the Arusha Urban Water Supply Authority has teamed up with experts at the University of Dar-Es-salaam in conducting extensive and research studies on the fluoride content found in local water sources here and how the situation can be rectified.
The AUWSA Managing Director, Engineer Ruth Koya said, the local area has potential water resources but much of that has very high fluoride, content thus making it difficult for the water authority to explore new sources. Water is increasingly becoming scarce in Arusha.
Current figures from Pangani Water Basin authority indicate that, the fluoride concentration in Arusha water is 4 milligrams per liter which is high.
Ingestion of too much fluoride, according to experts, causes dental fluorosis, a condition characterized by the failure of tooth enamel to crystallize properly in permanent teeth, causing chalky, opaque blotching of teeth to severe, rust-colored stains, surface pitting and tooth brittleness in additional to malleable bones.
AUWSA has already floated tenders for the purchase of fluoride removing, water treating plants and according to its Director, one such machine capable of purifying a reasonable amount of water per day costs an astounding 600 million/-.
When the Arusha Municipality became a City, the AUWSA water supplying coverage service increased from the earlier 93 square kilometers to the current 210 Kilometers square.
“And that is an increase of about 124 percent,” said the AUWSA Director explaining that the daily water requirement for Arusha City has also doubled from the previous 53,000 cubic liters per day to an overwhelming 93,270 cubic liters.
The Arusha Urban Water Supply Authority fills its water reserves from a total of 16 wells and natural springs, some as old as 50 years and many of which are now drying up.
The daily water production in the urban precinct averages at 45,000 cubic liters but with the ongoing dry spell, the water production level has fallen to a measly 32,000 cubic liters per day, and dropping.
The Authority is now working to identify new water sources including reviving a total of nine old wells that were dug in 1980 but have never been used since then.
AUWSA will also be tapping water from the fresh-water Lake Duluti located in Tengeru area of Meru District once the negotiations with Pangani water basin which manages the resources, have been concluded.
The authority is also researching the area lying between Magereza section of Kisongo to Ngaramtoni where it is believed that the water table is rich and ready to be tapped.
AUWSA’s town water network is serving 32,000 customers, including residential, commercial and industrial premises; the authority also runs 46 public (community-based) water kiosks as well as 102 standpipes.
It is a limited coverage taking into consideration that the fast growing Arusha City currently has a population of 507,000 and the urban center is experiencing a major boom in real estate development, new industries, local and international organizations and higher institutes of learning.
A study around the town has revealed that, the current water shortage is badly affecting the residents of Sombetini Ward, FFU area, Kwa-Mrombo, Sokon-One and Njiro.