IMPACTS OF CONSTRUCTION ON WETLANDS IN BUNGOMA TOWN

From colonial times until recently, wetlands have been usually regarded as nuisances, only fit
to be drained, cleared, filled, inundated, degraded with toxins and nutrients, and exploited for
whatever resources could be extracted from them ( Maltby, 1986). The nature of wetland
benefits are such that the owners of wetlands usually cannot capture the benefits for their own
use or sale. The flood protection benefits accrue to others downstream. The fish and wildlife
that breed and inhabit the wetlands migrate, and are captured or enjoyed by others. The
ground water recharge and sediment trapping benefits cannot be commercially exploited. For
the owner of a wetland to benefit from his resource, he often has to alter it, convert it, and
develop it. That is why, despite their value, wetlands are being eliminated.
In their natural state, wetlands produce numerous benefits for society. Benefits which are
either irreplaceable if lost or can only be replaced at immense expense. (Shanbhag et al
2008). Wetlands provide a vivid example of the dynamic, yet fragile interactions that create,
maintain, and repair the world's ecological system. Unfortunately, the fate of many wetlands
can also offer concrete evidence of the harmful consequences of human activities that are
carried out without regard for, and often without knowledge of, the relationship of each part
of the ecosystem to the whole.
By and large construction is the major cause of urban environmental degradation not only
from the construction process effects but also from the resulting human settlements activities.
The study sought to investigate the impacts of property development on existing wetlands in
Bungoma Town. From the findings it emerged property development was the single most
destroyer of wetlands in the municipality through drainage, dredging deposition of fill
material, dyking and damming, construction, run-off, air and water pollution, changing
nutrient levels and release of toxic chemicals. The study concluded and recommended that
the future for these wetlands will really depend on how humans choose to use their wetlands
and the measures they take to mitigate impacts that their activities have on these special
environments.