Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
BULAWAYO’S water woes appear to be far from over with revelations that the city’s supply dams got just above two percent inflows despite the recent rains experienced in the region.
This comes as council has called on residents to practice water harvesting as a means of conserving the little water that the city is managing to pump.
The local authority has said that the much-anticipated Epping Forest borehole project is operating at 45 percent capacity despite initial indications from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) that the facility could supply 10 mega litres a day to the city.
According to a dams inflow update from the city’s Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube the rains had managed to up the dams’ current capacity by just 2,02 percent.
Insiza Mayfair had the highest inflow of 768 348 cubic metres, Inyankuni had inflows of 98 490 cubic metres, Umzingwane; 278 760 cubic metres, Upper Ncema; 311 900 cubic metres while Lower Ncema had no inflows at all with Mtshabezi Dam actually recording a deficit of 16 000 cubic metres.
The city’s dams therefore stand at 23,53 percent full with indications that if the city does not receive any significant rainfall, Insiza Mayfair and Mtshabezi Dam will run dry in March and September next year.
Meanwhile, speaking at a recent Water, Sanitation and Energy (WASHen) conference, BCC deputy director of engineering services, Engineer Sikhumbuzo Ncube revealed that they were being forced to implement stringent water shedding as they were still not getting the 10 mega litres a day of water from the Epping Forest boreholes.
The city ditched its 144-hour shedding schedule four months ago to adopt a “as and when available” strategy as the water situation continued to deteriorate.
Last month during a test run, Zinwa managed to pump 13,7 mega litres, with Zinwa indicating that they had completed drilling nine of the 10 boreholes at Epping Forest while seven of them have already been equipped, ready to start pumping water to the city.
Zinwa started drilling the boreholes at the end of August after Government released $205 million for Bulawayo’s water augmentation scheme.
The drilling, rehabilitation, equipping and connection of the boreholes to power cost about US$1,5 million.
The funds were released after President Mnangagwa directed that the Bulawayo water crisis be attended to as a matter of urgency.
“From the Epping Forest project where Zinwa was equipping 10 high yielding boreholes, while we expect to get 10 mega litres a day, we are currently getting about 4,5 mega litres a day. At the Rochester boreholes where 15 boreholes were rehabilitated, we are getting between nine and 19 mega litres a day.
“As we are faced with this crisis we are proposing a number of intermediate solutions which include the Khami Dam recycling project that has a capacity of giving the city 12 to 15 megalitres a day, exploration of the Matobo Aquifer, with a capacity of about 40 megalitres a day and the extension of the Nyamandlovu Aquifer towards Sawmills, which can give the city about 20 megalitres a day,” said Eng Ncube.
Eng Ncube clarified that the Khami Dam recycling project was not necessarily going to be for domestic use but will be supplied to industries, replaying the treated water that was currently being supplied.
On rain water harvesting, the deputy director said if properly done residents would help the city save the little water that was available and avert a possible disaster.
“During the rainy season we are encouraging residents to do water harvesting, where we are saying that people can also harvest about 400 litres of water a day which is almost equal to the daily household allocation of 450 litres a day. Therefore, in the next four months we can actually save water that was meant for flushing and other domestic use through water harvesting,” he said.