FAQ: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON WATER BILL
Question 1: Is the National Water Resources Bill a new Water Law?
Answer: No, rather it is an amalgamation of Water Resources Laws that have been in existence as enshrined in LFN 1`2004. These Laws are: Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004, the River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A.LFN, 2004 and National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004. These Laws are being re- enacted with necessary modifications in the new Bill to actualize current global trends and best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
Question 2: What are the issues that will be addressed by this Bill?
- The Bill seeks to eliminate conflicting roles of sector institutions and create seamless synergies among the Agencies with focus on professionalizing the sector and to encourage specialization.
- It seeks to provide an institutional framework that clarifies a separation of roles and responsibilities along the lines of service provision, regulation and policy formulation, eliminating overlaps and duplicity of functions and promising synergy, professionalism and specialization.
- Promotion of co-operation in trans-boundary water management across basins and countries including tools for improving transparency and accountability within the water sector.
- The management of water at basin level covering development and improvement strategies, coordination and collaboration among stakeholders and plans, as well as commercialization.
- Recognition and implementation of the principle of water as an economic and social good, taking into consideration the socio- economic status of the users, particularly affordability amongst other things.
- The Water Resources Bill provides for the creation of an enabling environment for public and private sector investment. The Bill also provides for capacity building processes to foster good governance whilst establishing a water use and licensing framework to ensure sustainable financing for Water Sector Development from tariffs including creation of an enabling climate for increased private sector participation in service delivery under Public Private Partnership Management Contracts.
- QUESTION 3: Will Citizens right of access to water be denied if this Bill is passed into law?
Answer: No, the bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and ground water for the use of all people (i.e. for domestic and non- domestic use, irrigation, agricultural purposes, generation of hydro-electric energy, navigation, fisheries and recreation).
- QUESTION 4: Is this Bill meant to favour some sections or regions of the Country?
Answer: No, this National Water Resources Bill when passed into Law will better serve and provide for the enhancement of the Nigeria Water Sector in line with global best practices hence, it will be in the overall best interest of every citizen, region and section of the country.
Question 5: Is the power to use, manage and control all surface water and groundwater affecting more than one state as found in the Water Resources Bill a new law?
Answer: No, prior to the National Water Resources Bill, various extant laws like the Water Act of 1993 and National Water Resource Institute Act of 1985 gave the right of control and management of rivers to the Federal Government. Others in that category were River Basin Development Authority Act of 1986 and Nigeria Hydrological Act Services Agencies Establishment Act of 2010. The Federal Government was empowered by the 1999 Constitution with right to the use, management and control of all surface water and groundwater affecting more than one state, such power was pursuant to item 64 of the Exclusive Legislative List in Part One of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended), so nothing new has being added to the Water Resources Bill that is not already in the existing law.
Question 6: Does this Bill seek to concentrate the control of water resources in the hands of the Federal Government?
ANSWER: On the contrary, this Bill aimed at devolving some of the powers vested on FG to the States. The existing National Water Resources Act vested a lot of powers in the Minister of Water Resources and what this Bill seeks to do is to devolve powers to the States through Catchment Management Committees who will be responsible for the regulation of borehole drilling and other watershed and catchment issues.
Question 7: What rights does a State have over trans-boundary water cutting across it under this Bill?
Answer: States have the rights to use such water for any purpose provided it does not affect the users downstream in other States, for instance a State cannot arbitrarily dam trans-boundary water cutting through it thereby denying users downstream in other States access to it. In order to ensure that water is accessible to users upstream and downstream, the power to control trans-boundary waters cutting across States in Nigeria is vested on the Federal Government. Again this is not new, it is in the existing law.
Question 8: Does this Bill confer any new powers on the Federal Government with regard to management and control of inland water-ways.
ANSWER: No, This Bill has nothing to do with management or control of inland water ways.
QUESTION 9: Will people lose the rights to their lands if this Bill is passed into law?
Answer: No, lands and river banks belong to the States and the Communities where such exist, the Bill is concerned only with the Water Resources of the country especially waters that are trans-boundary cutting across States. It’s worthy of note that it is consistent with the Land Use Act and the Constitution of the Federation. Again this is not a new provision; it already exists in the current Water Law.
QUESTION 10: Why is it that people do not understand the gains of this Bill?
Answer: They do not understand because they have not gone through the Bill and if they did, then they have only chosen to play politics with it. The Bill was drafted in 2006 with the support of the European Union and passed through series of consultations among stakeholders up to 2008, since which time it received no priority attention by successive Administrations until now. The Senate held a public hearing on the National Water Resources Bill with majority of stakeholders in attendance on 5th and 6th of December, 2017 while the House of Representatives held theirs on 17th and 18th of October 2017. All the necessary processes were carried out which enabled the passage of the Bill by the House of Representatives on 30th of November, 2017. Will the House of Representative pass the bill if the Representatives of the people did not understand the gains of the Bill?
Question 11: What is the relationship between this draft Bill and Cattle Colony
Answer: There is no relationship. The draft Bill has not introduced anything new that was not in place before. The Bill is for the development, management and efficient use of the Nation’s water resources in line with global best practices and has nothing to do with Cattle Colony.
Question 12: Who will regulate Ground-water?
Answer: The Bill provides for regulating Commercial boreholes but provides that this Regulation will be done by the States. The Water Resources Regulatory Commission will provide guidelines to ensure universal standards and policies.
Question 13: Explain this statement “All surface water and groundwater wherever it occurs, is a resource common to all people, the use of which is subject to statutory control. There shall be no private ownership of water but the right to use water in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
Answer: This is just to re-state the fact. You can own your borehole but you cannot just do anything with it that might affect the groundwater and pollute it for other people. The water in the borehole is part of a river flowing underground called aquifer. That is why pollution in one State can show up in the borehole in another State or too much abstraction from one borehole can dry up someone else’s borehole. This is a protection for other water users and in line with Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
Question 14: Explain this statement, “As the public trustee of the nation’s water resources, the Federal Government, acting through the Minister and the institutions created in this Act or pursuant to this Act, shall ensure that the water resources of the nation are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner, for the benefit of all persons and in accordance with its constitutional mandate”.
Answer: This speaks for itself. The constitution provides that water crossing state boundaries shall be under the Federal Government. The Water Resources Act 2004 vests these waters in the Federal Government and lists the affected water in the schedule. Nothing new has been added.