‘Holy Water’ from the Uganda Martyrs’ lake at the Catholic shrine in Namugongo is set to be treated to ensure it is safe and clean before being used by pilgrims, the Rector at the Shrine Fr Vincent Lubega has told local news agency Uganda Radio Network.
Many pilgrims who flock Namugongo to celebrate the Martyr’s Day fetch water from the man-made lake. They have often given testimonies that the water heals them of various ailments. As a norm, pilgrims scamper with jerrycans to get a share of the water.
A week ago, the shrine’s secretariat requested National Water and Sewerage Cooperation (NWSC) to conduct tests on the water to ascertain whether it was good for use for several purposes including drinking.
The move was based on several appeals from health experts following a recent study conducted by the Department of Biochemistry Makerere University which indicated that the ‘Holy Water’ contains pathogenic micro -organisms such as E. coli, and Coliforms, a type of bacteria known to cause diarrhoea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, abdominal pain, and fever.
Although Rev Lubega never disclosed details of the report from NWSC, he says they are going to treat the water. “We are working with national water to ensure that the water is treated with reagents,” he told this reporter decrying the criticism surrounding Namugongo ‘holy water’ saying it fueled by people with bias on the matter.
He says that the water is not necessarily drunk by pilgrims but rather many use it for different purposes like sprinkling it at the homes and business for blessings. He also says they have always advised pilgrims who wish to drink the water to first boil it.
This reporter has also learnt that the church is planning to drill a production borehole in the area to embark on bottling mineral water from the area. Samuel Apedel, NWSC spokesperson has confirmed the development saying NWSC has already cleared them to proceed.
“Whenever, someone wishes to drill a borehole in jurisdiction of NWSC must apply through the ministry of water for permission. We have since received their application and given them a green light,” says Apedel.
Some years back, the church mooted the idea of making branded mineral water for pilgrims to drink, however the many shunned it in favor of collecting their own water from the source. Currently, many pilgrims have already started collecting water in jerrycans and bottles.