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Bulawayo water situation remains critical

by Staff reporter
19 Jul 2013 at 05:20hrs | Views
THE water situation in Bulawayo remains critical despite the expected commissioning of Mtshabezi Dam project today.

The dam, has been supplying an average of 3 000 cubic metres of water to the city daily, out of an expected 17 000 because it was being powered by generators.

The electrification of the pump station at the dam has been completed and after its commissioning by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai today, the dam is expected to provide the full capacity to the city.

However, in an interview yesterday, Bulawayo deputy director of engineering services Mr Ian Mthunzi said the three-day water shedding schedule for all suburbs would not be relaxed.

"The water shedding schedule is likely to be maintained at the same level. Even though the dam is expected to start supplying 17 000 cubic metres to the city, in less than four weeks we expect to de-commission Inyankuni Dam, which is supplying 25 000 cubic metres of water everyday," said Eng Mthunzi.

He urged residents to continue conserving water, saying a number of projects meant to increase Bulawayo's water supply, were yet to take off.

"The project to resuscitate boreholes at Nyamandlovu Aquifer, which is being sponsored by Giz, has not yet started. We are getting about 4 000 cubic metres everyday from the aquifer, where less than 30 boreholes out of 56 are operational. We expected to increase the capacity to about 12 000. The project to drill boreholes at Epping Forest where we expected to get an additional 10 000 cubic metres has also not kicked off," said Eng Mthunzi.

The city's unrestricted water usage is about 145 000 cubic metres daily, but with water shedding it has been reduced to about 100 000.

According to statistics released by the city's senior public relations officer, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu, as of Wednesday, the city's six supply dams held about 46,61 percent of their capacity, which is 414,627,700 cubic metres.

At the beginning of the water shedding  programme on 27 July last year before the introduction of Mtshabezi  Dam, the five supply dams, Insiza, Umzingwane, Inyankuni, Lower and Upper Ncema held 43,1 percent of the combined capacity of 362 317 000 cubic metres.

Mtshabezi Dam, which started supplying the city early this year held 98,9 percent of its capacity.

Experts have maintained that Bulawayo is not a water shortage area, but faces challenges in harnessing its water resources.

They have said there were abundant lucrative investment opportunities in the city's water supply sector.

The bulk of the city's water, 115,198,024 cubic metres is held in the largest supply dam, Insiza.

The water is projected to last more than two years.

However, with Upper Ncema Dam already decommissioned and Inyankuni and Lower Ncema likely to follow before the end of August, the dam would not be able to cater for the unsuppressed demand for water by residents.

It has a small pipeline that can only deliver 46 000 cubic metres of water everyday.

Plans are underway to construct another pipeline, parallel to the existing one, which would increase the total supply capacity to about 71 000 cubic metres.

Without the duplication, when other dams are decommissioned, there would be a water shortage despite Insiza being almost full.

The permanent solution to the city's water crisis is said to be the National Matabeleland Zambezi Pipeline (NMZWP) which was first mooted in 1912.

Minister of Water Resources Management and Development, Dr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said the $1,2 billion needed for the project had been sourced in China and the project was likely to be completed within the next three years.

Source - chronicle