Harare/Byo water woes get worse

Grace Kombora/Susan Mateko

HARARE will continue to experience water problems so long as the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), which is managing water purification, does not have the capacity to do s

o.


Zinwa board chairman Willie Muringani this week told the Zimbabwe Independent that the parastatal was facing numerous challenges as it does not have enough resources to improve water purification.


Zinwa four months ago took over bulk water treatment in Harare from the city council saying the local authority was failing to provide water to ratepayers. However, the capital has for the past three months faced its worst ever water supply problems with the city’s northern and eastern suburbs going without water for over two months.


“The takeover has presented numerous challenges to Zinwa such as infrastructure that has outlived its economic life, inadequate resources to maintain and repair the existing infrastructure and unavailability of foreign currency to import the required equipment and chemicals,” Muringani said.


A source at Zinwa said financing of the repair works, which Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono promised when Zinwa took over from the Harare city council, was not forthcoming.


Muringani said they were trying to correct the anomalies inherent in the old system in order to alleviate water shortages.


“What is actually happening is that we are trying to correct anomalies that were inherent in the old system where some parts of the city almost always bore the brunt of water cuts,” he said.


He attributed the persistent water cuts to the increase in demand by Harare residents. “The persistent water cuts are being caused by demand which has outstripped supply in Harare,” Muringani said.


The shortages have forced residents to draw water from unprotected wells and Mukuvisi River.


Meanwhile Zinwa has intro-duced demand management, which entails the cutting of water supplies to most residential suburbs for the whole day.


“The water demand management entails cutting of water supplies for 24 hours to the southern and northern suburbs. However, we are not in a position to say when the demand management will end,” Muringani said.


Under the plan, water pressure to southern suburbs and to Chitungwiza is reduced at certain periods to allow for greater distribution to other suburbs.


“Water supply mains to the high-density areas of Highfield, Sunningdale, Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana, Warren Park and Chitungwiza will be throttled to control flows into those areas,” said Muringani.


Zinwa in May this year took over bulk water supply for the Harare Metropolitan area. This covers the city of Harare, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Epworth.


Muringani said the solution to persistent water problems lay in the complete rehabilitation of waterworks and the construction of Kunzvi dam.


“The long-term solution to Harare’s water problems lies in the complete rehabilitation of the city’s major treatment works, Morton Jaffrey and Prince Edward, which have the capacity to produce a combined estimate of 600 megalitres per day and the construction of Kunzvi dam,” he said.


Muringani said Kunzvi Dam was expected to be completed in the next three years.


The dam, to be built on the confluence of Nyaguwe and Nora rivers in the Goromonzi district, falls in a different catchment area to Chivero, Manyame, Seke and Harava dams that get their water from Manyame River.


Muringani said: “Construction of Kunzvi Dam is expected to be complete within the next three years.”


Water Resources minister Munacho Mutezo in April said government would announce the funding for the construction of the dam “in the next three weeks”. To date no such announcement has been made nor has there been any tendering process for the project.


Meanwhile our Bulawayo bureau reports that a catastrophe is in the making in the city unless there are good rains this season.


Bulawayo has been hit by serious water shortages that have seen some suburbs going for two months without water.


Two dams in the city have completely dried up while the remaining two dams have no pumping capacity.


The city’s director of engineering services Peter Sibanda on Wednesday revealed that short of good rains, the remaining supply dams, Inyakuni and Insiza, would dry up.


“The situation is really bad. If there are no rains this season we are set for a disaster as the current water supply dams are running low and very soon they will dry up, if there are no huge inflows,” Sibanda said.


He said current supplies were only enough to last 12 months and thereafter there would be shortages if there were no inflows into the city’s dams.


“So far the water in the dams is not enough and will only last for about 12 months because of the water rationing measures we have put in place,” Sibanda said.


Sibanda said council was trying to resuscitate boreholes at the Nyamandlovu aquifer in Matabeleland North.


He however reiterated that this would not meet demand as it only accounted for a 10th of the city’s daily requirements.


“Council has embarked on a programme to resuscitate boreholes at the Nyamandlovu aquifer. However this will not meet the demand as it will only provide a 10th of what is needed,” said Sibanda.


The two remaining dams are currently supplying the city with only half of requirements.


Inyakuni supplies 24 million cubic metres out of a capacity of 80 million cubic metres while Insiza supplies 83 million cubic metres out of a capacity of 173 million cubic metres.