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Bulawayo residents to get water 'as and when it's available'

by Staff reporter
25 Feb 2024 at 07:16hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has been forced to suspend its 120-hour water shedding schedule indefinitely as the water situation worsens leaving supply dependent on availability until their system stabilises.

The city is experiencing one of its most severe water crisis, and has already taken the drastic step of decommissioning one of its primary supply dams, Umzingwane. Since the start of the year, several suburbs have endured prolonged periods of water shedding, some exceeding a week with the situation deteriorating further in recent weeks leading to council failing to maintain the 120-hour water shedding schedule.

Town clerk, Mr Christopher Dube,  revealed yesterday that all areas would only receive water on an as-available basis until the system stabilises. Mr Dube said the latest developments have been necessitated by reduced raw water pumping to the city.

"The City of Bulawayo would like to advise members of the public of water supply interruptions and suspension of the 120 hour water shedding programme to all city areas except Industry and the Central Business District (CBD). This is due to reduced raw water pumping to the city as a result of a fault which occurred at Ncema Pump Station resulting in reduction of treated water production. To protect the reservoirs from collapsing due to reduction in raw water deliveries and treatment, the City of Bulawayo will temporarily suspend the 120-hour shedding schedule and cut off supply to all residential feeders except for Industry and CBD until the system stabilises," said Mr Dube.

The town clerk, in his statement did not specify when likely residents could start getting water, instead emphasising that water supplies will only be available only when the system stabilises. According to the local authority's daily water supply statistics as at yesterday, the city's supply dams stood at a combined 42.78 percent full.

Insiza Mayfair, with a carrying capacity of 173 491 000 cubic metres was at 58,39 percent, Inyankuni, which has a carrying capacity of 80 781 000 cubic metres is 29,09 percent full, Upper Ncema which has a carrying capacity of 45 458 500 cubic metres is 17,09 percent full and Mtshabezi, with a carrying capacity of 51 996 000 cubic metres pegged is at 73,01 percent of its capacity.

The decommissioned Umzingwane dam, with a carrying capacity of 44 663 500 cubic metres is at 4,18 percent capacity, while Lower Ncema, which has a carrying capacity of 18  237 700 cubic metres, as of yesterday is at 27,37 capacity.

Posting on X last week, the city's mayor, Councillor David Coltart noted that the city's dams were terribly low and none of the rivers into them are flowing.  He further inspected the Umzingwane River upstream of the Umzingwane dam and took some pictures to show the dryness of the river.

"The river is bone dry – there aren't even puddles. At this time of year, one would expect at least puddles. The government urgently needs to declare Bulawayo as a water shortage area and we need urgent financial assistance to take a variety of short term remedial measures to mitigate the crisis. These include getting the Nyamandlovu aquifer pumps up to full capacity (and then protecting them from theft), constructing a diversionary pipeline on the Mtshabezi pipeline direct to the Umzingwane pump station, upgrading the Inyankuni dam pump station and duplicating the pipeline from Insiza dam to Ncema water purification works. This needs to be done as a matter of extreme urgency. The BCC and local engineering companies have the capacity to do all of this but we need urgent financial assistance to do so," said the mayor.

Clr Coltart further noted that the city needs US$14 million to immediately alleviate the city's perennial water challenge. The Bulawayo water problem is a perennial issue hence the Government has undertaken to expedite the construction of the Lake Gwayi Shangani project, with a pipeline from Gwayi to Bulawayo already being constructed as the long-term answer.

The construction of the dam has progressed steadily in recent years and it is hoped once the dam and pipeline are complete, water challenges will be a thing of the past in Bulawayo.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) last year announced that it embarked on a programme to rehabilitate at least 34 boreholes at Nyamandlovu Aquifer, which is expected to alleviate Bulawayo's water crisis.

The programme aims to restore water production from Nyamandlovu back to 20 mega-litres (ML) per day, which will improve water supplies in some western suburbs.

According to the council, the water situation in the city is worsened by the vandalism of transformers and boreholes at Epping Forest and Nyamandlovu, which reduced the pumping capacity from 20 ML to 4 ML.

Source - The Sunday News