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Incredible potable water potential around Bulawayo

19 Jun 2020 at 07:34hrs | Views
SO the City of Bulawayo is re-commissioning Khami Dam sewer treatment works as another source of potable for the city. Why not go further and include Aisleby Farm sewer treatment works into its water development plans?

I'm thinking now off the top of my mind without knowing the city council's water development plans. As a water fanatic (if you like) myself, there is a tremendous potential surrounding the city (and I'm not thinking of aquifers) which can be taped.

Bulawayo is surrounded by two river systems to the south and north which area can provide unlimited amount of water. To the north Umguza River has its source in the watershed between greater Bulawayo and Esigodini, while Khami River's headwaters begin west of Umzingwani River east of the Bulawayo-Matopos Road. Greater Bulawayo itself is a source of considerable amount of floodwaters during the rainy season.

What is of concern is the disposal of the city's ever-increasing sludge manure and how its accumulation affects the environment, particularly river systems.

In the case of Aisleby Treatment Works the established sewer farm on which council produced beef cattle that earned the local authority considerable revenue, minimised the damage to the environment through its careful management. These cattle won prizes at every Bulawayo Agricultural Show.

Does the council have the necessary financial resources and management capacity to develop another sewer farm at Khami and resuscitate breeding of stock at Aisleby which appears to have fallen on hard times in recent years I knew a man who made Aisleby Farm world famous as the only sewer farm of its kind in Southern Africa.

I hope I'm not stealing the thunder (for lack of a better phrase) of one backroom engineer in the ranks of the city's employees for coming up with a brilliant idea on utilisation of Khami Dam sewer water and must be congratulated.

There is moreover a not-insignificant potential of water in the valley behind Ntabazinduna Hill which can be harnessed by increasing the capacity of Aisleby Dam without causing environmental disaster downstream from the dam wall.

The floods from the valley can be increased by floods from the new housing estate that overlooks Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport. The new housing estate sits on a watershed that drains floods into the valley behind the Ntabazinduna Hill.

With resources, the Aisleby Farm dam can be expanded to become a massive water body with potential to generate revenue from weekend visitors for recreational purposes. Increasing the dam's capacity has a potential to reduce the cost of conveying water to the city's industrial and commercial districts.

There is for one example the close proximity of the proposed business district behind Mpilo Hospital which in turn is close to surrounding housing estates. In this regard increasing the Aisleby Farm Dam recommends itself. Would this mean discarding with the need to bring water from the on-going Gwayi-Shangani Dam which is proposed as one of the city's supply dams? Not at all.

The Gwayi-Shangani project, which began as a project of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) of the city of Bulawayo, but has since become government's project for both the city and Matabeleland North. There is therefore no conflict of interest in local government's plans to improve water supplies for the city and government plans for the city and Matabeleland North.

Government is committed to completing Gwayi-Shangani Dam and creating a greenbelt along the pipeline to Bulawayo. Let me return to the Khami Dam project. In the past the council disposed some of the dam's sewer water to urban agriculture enthusiasts around Hyde Park but has since cut off supply to the plot holders.

Council owns some land between Hyde Park and Khami Prison but cannot use that land to develop a cattle farm on the lines of Aisleby.

There is a rapidly filling cemetery for which land must be reserved for the cemetery's expansion. In the late 1940s the Luveve cemetery north of Hyde Park was a facility for urban agriculture for what was then the government owned Luveve village which later became part of city of Bulawayo's western suburbs.

After independence and there was emigration by white farmers, there was talk of extending the area of Greater Bulawayo to a 40-km radius around the city. Such plans are probably still gathering dust somewhere awaiting implementation.

In the late 1940s the land which has become the suburb of Cowdray Park and surrounding housing estates were all former farmland and we used to sneak into the farms to gather wild fruits.

I have over the years been a critic of government's failure to identify potential dam sites near Bulawayo which were announced by government in December 1991.

There is merit in considering such sites because the proximity of a dam has a tremendous impact on the cost of water to the end user. No opportunity therefore should be lost to remind of the need to identify the dam sites.

There is great deal of merit to site dams near the consumer.

Jonathan Maphenduka can be contacted on 0772 332 404

Source - chroncile
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