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Bulawayo runs out of water treatment chemicals

by Staff reporter
30 Apr 2017 at 14:11hrs | Views
DESPITE Bulawayo having all but one of its water supply dams spilling, residents in the city could be faced with another water crisis as the city council is struggling to procure treatment chemicals.

The local authority is now engaging the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to come to their rescue as all the water treatment chemicals are sourced from outside the country.

The local authority's spokesperson, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu, confirmed the latest developments adding that they hope the Apex Bank will prioritise local authorities in the allocation of foreign currency.

"Bulawayo City Council is engaging the Central Government with the hope that suppliers of water treatment chemicals, contracted to the City of Bulawayo, be given top priority in the allocation of foreign currency by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

"Basically all water treatment chemicals are purchased from outside the country. The main challenge is in the acquisition of Aluminium Sulphate, Chlorine gas and Calcium Hypochlorite," said Mrs Mpofu.

Commenting on the dilemma which the local authority is in, a water and sanitation expert, Engineer Khonzaphi Dube, who is also a chemical engineer and member of the Water Institute of Southern Africa said there was a need for a bit of worry, noting that all these chemicals had their own crucial role to play in the water treatment process.

He said a major crisis which the local authority could be faced with was if chlorine runs out totally, noting that this could even go on to affect the local authority's water supply capabilities.

"Chlorine gas and calcium hypochlorite are types of chlorine that are used for disinfection in bulk water treatment. The chlorine kills pathogenic organisms which cause diseases such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa. It also has added advantages of improving the taste and colour of water.

"Chlorination as a stand alone process is adequate for killing pathogens in water, and improving taste and colour, so given the financial constraints that the municipality might be having, they can operate without the ammonia but should they run out of chlorine, and if they do not have an alternative disinfection method I don't think they will supply the water for public consumption.

"Aluminium sulphate also called alum is used as a coagulant in water treatment which binds organic and mineral colloids suspended in water. The alum works by promoting the clustering of suspended material into a chemical precipitate called a floc. The floc is relatively bigger and heavier, hence it can be removed either by sedimentation or filtration," said Eng Dube.

This is not the first time the local authority has faced a chemical shortage, a couple of years ago the city also endured an acute shortage of water treatment chemicals that resulted in a cessation of purification of water at its Criterion Water Works.

Late last year the council was forced to introduce a 72-hour water shedding schedule to conserve dwindling water supplies, which had seen supply dams standing at a combined 30 percent full.

However, the city has received significant inflows into its supply dams with all but one of the dams reaching full capacity.

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Source - zimpapers

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