By Nqobile Tshili
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has started rehabilitating Nyamandlovu Aquifer boreholes in an emergency programme after deploying a specialised team to work on augmenting Bulawayo’s water supplies.
Bulawayo is facing a deepening water shortage that has seen desperate residents resorting to drawing water from unprotected sources which could impact negatively on their health.
Some areas in suburbs such as Magwegwe North and New Magwegwe have gone for more than a month without running water.
Council has imposed a citywide five-day weekly water shedding programme.
Government last month availed $10,6 million to Zinwa to enable the authority to rehabilitate 15 boreholes at the aquifer to improve water supplies in Bulawayo.
The rehabilitation works will increase water drawn from the aquifer to eight megalitres per day from an average of three megalitres.
Bulawayo requires about 130 megalitres per day.
The city’s water woes are expected to worsen this month if council goes ahead with plans to decommission Lower Ncema Dam, making it the third water source to be decommissioned in Bulawayo since last year.
When Lower Ncema Dam is decommissioned the city will lose 59 megalitres per day.
Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga yesterday said Zinwa teams have been deployed on site together with requisite equipment marking the start of emergency works.
“Zinwa has already completed the flushing of the boreholes that are set to be equipped and connected. The authority will also repair leaking pipes at Nyamandlovu. Zinwa has since procured the necessary pumps and pipes which have already been transported to the project site. Zinwa teams have also moved on the ground, marking the commencement of the emergency project,” said Mrs Munyonga.
She said the authority cannot provide a definitive date when the project will be completed but it will keep the nation posted on the implementation of the project.
“We are cognisant of the fact that this is an emergency situation as Bulawayo is facing serious water shortages. Our original plan was to complete in eight weeks but we are working towards reducing this as we are getting most of our supplies from local suppliers,” said Mrs Munyonga.
“The overall objective of the project is the improvement of water pumping capacity from Nyamandlovu (Rochester) through the procurement and installation of three transformers, equipping and connecting 15 additional boreholes. There is however the possibility of equipping and connecting a total of 20 boreholes at Nyamandlovu Aquifer.”
She said the $10,6 million would be used on the boreholes numbering between 15 and 20 which differ from the ordinary household boreholes that most people are accustomed to.
“These are specialised commercial boreholes that are very deep and draw water from about 100m within the aquifer. These boreholes are fitted with specialised pumps and we are using epoxy coated steel pipes that are not bought off the shelf but are cut to measure.
“The work can only be done by specialised fitters and remember we are resuscitating an existing pipeline so it takes specialised pumps and pipes as well as specialised manpower,” she said.
Bulawayo’s water shortage is worsened by the ever-bursting pipes.
The crisis has seen council steadily extending the weekly water shedding programme from an initial 48 hours last year to 72 hours then 96 hours. Early last month the programme was increased from 108 hours weekly to the current 120 hour weekly water shedding exercise.
Government has committed to availing more funds to address the dire water situation in Bulawayo.
Council last week said it requires $910 million or US$22,75 million to implement three major projects that would ease the city’s water crisis. The Chronicle