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Bulawayo water crisis continues to worsen

By Vusumuzi Dube

As the water supply situation in Bulawayo continues to worsen, the local authority has called for an urgent water crisis committee meeting to map the way forward.

Lobengula residents in Bulawayo queue for water in this file photo. As the water supply situation in Bulawayo continues to worsen, the local authority has called for an urgent water crisis committee meeting to map the way forward
Lobengula residents in Bulawayo queue for water in this file photo. As the water supply situation in Bulawayo continues to worsen, the local authority has called for an urgent water crisis committee meeting to map the way forward

This comes amid indications that the local authority might increase the water shedding regime. The city is under a 48 hour water shedding schedule for all suburbs.

According to a notice sent by the local authority’s senior public relations officer, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu, the crisis meeting is set for the council chambers on Wednesday.

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Responding to further enquiries from Chronicle, the council spokesperson painted a bleak picture of the city’s water situation. She said it was being worsened by the fuel shortages as they were unable to send water bowsers to areas that were worst affected by the shedding regime.

“Water shedding remains in force at 48 hour regime. Fuel shortages are however hampering delivery of water bowsers to some critical points. Pipe bursts are also taking longer to attend due to cash challenges,” said Mrs Mpofu.

According to the latest dam statistics the city’s dams stand at 52,46 percent full with one of the dams, Upper Ncema, according to Mrs Mpofu, likely to be decommissioned in the next few days as it stands at 5,16 percent full.

A dam is usually decommissioned after it reaches 10 percent of its capacity to allow the water to sustain its underwater life. Early this month the dams were 54,38 percent full.

Mtshabezi which has a capacity of 51 996 000 cubic metres has dropped from 83,12 percent full in recent weeks to 78,93 percent, Inyankuni, which has a carrying capacity of 80 781 000 cubic metres is 62,77 percent full a drop from 63,74 percent last month and Insiza Mayfair, with a carrying capacity of 173 491 000 cubic metres is 57,48 percent full a drop from 58,92 percent.

Lower Ncema which has a carrying capacity of 18 237 700 cubic metres is 76,56 percent a drop from 81,18 percent two weeks ago.

Umzingwane with a carrying capacity of 44 663 500 cubic metres has dropped to 21,29 percent from 22,66 percent.

Upper Ncema, which is facing decommissioning, and has a carrying capacity of 45 458 500 cubic metres, was at eight percent two weeks ago.

The local authority failed to pump water from the Nyamandlovu aquifer in the past week while from Mtshabezi dam they managed to pump 16 mega litres.

The city faces perennial water shortages, but this year the situation is likely to be further exacerbated by the low rainfall experienced in the region which resulted in very low inflows to the city’s supply dams.

The city fathers have in the past identified the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project as the long term solution to the city’s problems.

Other projects identified include the Epping Forest boreholes project that will increase the water being pumped from the Nyamandlovu Aquifer and the duplication of the Insiza pipeline to complement the current pipeline and increase water being pumped from Insiza Mayfair.

Bulawayo is also said to be operating with a deficit of four dams as an additional supply dam is supposed to be constructed after every 10 years.

Meanwhile, the fuel shortages that have hit the country seem to have impacted negatively on the local authority and has gone on to affect the refuse collection schedule of the city.

In a public notice last Friday, town clerk, Mr Christopher Dube revealed that there were some areas whose refuse will not be collected due to the fuel crisis.

“The city of Bulawayo would like to advise residents that there will be an interruption in refuse removal services in the following areas; Mahatshula, Woodville, Killarney, Emhlangeni and part of the Central Business District due to fuel shortages.

“Residents are encouraged to keep the city clean and desist from dumping refuse in open spaces. Uncollected refuse should be kept within household properties and will be collected when refuse collection resumes,” reads the notice. The Chronicle