Of the 41 million people residing in Kenya, 17 million lack access to clean water. But today the people of the drought-stricken nation have a reason to celebrate, as scientists announced the discovery of a massive underground aquifer with enough water to supply the entire country. Scientists located the aquifer using satellite technology and confirmed the presence of the water yesterday after exploratory drilling connected with the aquifer 900 feet underground.

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Kenya suffers from erratic rainfall exacerbated by climate change, and a lack of natural water resources. The aquifer, dubbed the Lotikipi Basin Aquifer, holds 900 percent more water than Kenya currently has at its disposal. That’s enough water to supply the entire country for 70 years, but since the aquifer is replenished by distant mountains, proper management could mean that the water could provide an unlimited supply for the country. The aquifer sits 900 feet underground in the northern part of Kenya and is about 2,500 square miles in size.

A second, smaller aquifer was also discovered in the Lodwar Basin that could help provide water for the area of Lodwar, which is the capitol of Turkana in Kenya. “The news about these water reserves comes at a time when reliable water supplies are highly needed,” said Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Environment. “This newly found wealth of water opens a door to a more prosperous future for the people of Turkana and the nation as a whole. We must now work to further explore these resources responsibly and safeguard them for future generations.”

Scientists also believe they have located a few more groundwater supplies, but exploratory drilling is necessary to confirm these finds. They also need to test the newly discovered aquifers for water quality. The government of Kenya is assisting in the process with the launch of an underground water mapping program that would allow local governments to assess and utilize their groundwater resources.

Via Gizmodo, UNESCO and itv