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Bulawayo dam levels still critically low

by Staff reporter
20 Jan 2023 at 06:39hrs | Views
BULAWAYO's major supply dams have received insignificant inflows of water since the onset of the rainy season, raising fears of more water woes in the city.

According to the latest update by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), the water level in some Bulawayo dams has declined.

As of Wednesday, national dam level, said Zinwa, stood at 82,8 percent, marking a slight increase from 80,6 percent on December 19.

"As of January 18, the national dam level average is at 82,8 percent. There have been impressive gains at Mazowe Dam which has risen by 6,4 percent in the past seven days," said Zinwa.

In its latest report, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) said there has been a decrease in dam levels of some of the city's supply dams compared to the levels recorded in November last year.

The increase in dam levels is at Mtshabezi Dam which increased from 68, 33 percent in November to 69.3 as of Wednesday.

Upper Ncema which was at 2,24 percent in November is now at 2,6 percent. The dam was decommissioned in November last year.

A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited Inyankuni Dam in the Umguza District and observed that water levels are still low.

According to Zinwa's latest update, the dam level at Inyankuni declined from 41,6 percent in November to 36,4 percent. The news crew observed that there is a distinct discolouration on the rocks where the water flowed and on the dam wall. Lower Ncema Dam also recorded a decline in water levels from 47,13 percent in November to 29,4 percent.

Indications are that the 72-hour water-shedding schedule being implemented by BCC will continue.

Bulawayo introduced a 72-hour water shedding programme in August last year as part of the city's strategies to conserve water.

This has seen residents only accessing water four days a week while in some suburbs the water is only available for a few hours a week.

Bulawayo dams also recorded insignificant inflows during the 2021/22 rainy season.

The country has reached the summer season and it is expected that water consumption will increase.

Bulawayo municipality has for the past few months been postponing decommissioning Umzingwane and Upper Ncema dams due to the scheduled water shedding programme.

The vandalism of infrastructure at Epping Forest and Rochester Aquifer is also contributing to the city's water crisis.

The Epping Forest and Rochester Aquifer is pumping 3megalitres (ML) of water from 26ML because of those acts vandalism on infrastructure.

Government, through Zinwa, rehabilitated boreholes at Epping Forest and Rochester to improve Bulawayo's water situation in 2020. The aquifer is meant to complement Bulawayo's supply dams, whose water levels have remained low.

The Epping Forest boreholes were rehabilitated at a time when Bulawayo was experiencing its worst water crisis in the city's modern history. The water crisis resulted in the death of 14 residents in Luveve suburb due to diarrhoea-related illnesses.

The ongoing construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani is expected to bring an end to the water crisis upon its completion.

Government has said it is committed to ensure timely project completion to guarantee reliable water supply to Bulawayo for the next 80 years while weaning off some of its supply dams in Matabeleland South to cater for developmental projects in the largely rural province.

The massive water project is expected to ignite rural industrialisation across the Matabeleland region where communities will have access to clean water and electricity to power local institutions.

Guided by the National Development Strategy (NDS1), the Government aims to increase the percentage of people with access to potable water to 90 percent from 78 percent by 2025.

The construction of the massive water body will transform the Matabeleland region as irrigation projects will be established along the pipeline thereby turning the region into a green belt.

Lake Gwayi-Shangani is part of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, an idea that was conceived more than a century ago and has only been turned into reality by the Second Republic.

The dam is the third largest in the country after Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi.

Already, the Government has identified 10 000 hectares to be put under irrigation along the pipeline.

The completion of the project will also see the Government constructing a 10-megawatt power station at the massive dam.

Source - The Chronicle