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BCC pins hope on tropical cyclones

by Staff reporter
28 Nov 2023 at 05:18hrs | Views
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC), which is struggling to supply water to residents due to depleted water levels at its major supply dams, is now pinning its hope on the predicted tropical cyclones likely to hit the country during the 2023-24 rainy season

The city is facing a serious water crisis and has gone for several months on a 72-hour weekly water-shedding schedule due to low dam levels.

Apart from the Epping Forest and Nyamandlovu Aquifer, Bulawayo receives its water from  Mtshabezi, Upper Ncema, Lower Ncema, Insiza and Mzingwane dams.

Some of these dams have received insignificant inflows in the past rainy seasons due to climate change-induced droughts.

While weather experts have already predicted that the country, especially the southern region, will experience normal to below normal rains, Government has since mobilised $37 billion for disaster response and management as it emerged that the country could be affected by two tropical cyclones during the 2023-2024 rainy season.

The Department of Civil Protection told our sister publication, Sunday Mail recently that it also projects that about 250 000 people are at risk of being affected by adverse weather conditions — including tropical cyclones, flash floods, landslides and hailstorms during the period.

Inclement weather has already affected 5 000 people, killing 13 and injuring 16 this year across the country.

Briefing the media and councillors during a recent familiarisation tour of the city's water supply dams, acting BCC principal engineer for water supplies, Engineer Dhumani Gwetu said they hoped that the projected tropical cyclones would make landfall in Matebeleland South where the city's supply dams are located.

"Umzingwane Dam is only four percent full and is set to be decommissioned next month, Upper Ncema in June next year while Lower Ncema, where we are no longer drawing water, is projected to be decommissioned in February if significant rains are not received," he said.

Matebeleland South was last hit by a cyclone in 2021 when Cyclone Eloise made landfall on January 23 but was mainly concentrated in Beitbridge District.

According to the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum, at least 13 cyclones are expected to hit the region this season. This is above the average nine cyclones that make landfall every season.

Last year, Southern Africa was affected by 11 cyclones, including Freddy, which left a trail of destruction in Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar. Overall, it displaced more than 100 000 people.

BCC has also revealed plans to construct a new supply dam, the Glass Block Dam in Insiza District in Matebeleland South at a cost of US$100 million as a medium-term plan to tackle the prevailing water crisis.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has since embarked on an urgent programme to rehabilitate at least 34 boreholes at Nyamandlovu Aquifer.

The programme aims to restore volume of water pumped from Nyamandlovu back to 20 megalitres (ML) per day, which will improve water supplies in some western suburbs.

The Government also availed US$1,5 million towards the rehabilitation of boreholes at Epping Forest and Nyamandlovu in 2020 as part of the measures to address Bulawayo's water crisis. Not long after the rehabilitation works were completed, vandals reportedly stole transformers.

Bulawayo has been facing a water crisis that has seen some suburbs going for more than two weeks with dry taps. The situation was worsened by the vandalism of transformers and boreholes at Epping Forest and Nyamandlovu, which reduced the pumping capacity from 20ML to 4ML. This has affected 60 000 residents who rely on water from the aquifer.

The vandalism of electricity and water infrastructure has been described as a national security threat, and last year the Government set up an inter-ministerial committee to find a lasting solution to the issue.

Source - The Chronicle