Residents condemn illegal water harvesting 

Source: Residents condemn illegal water harvesting – NewsDay Zimbabwe


HARARE residents have condemned the unlawful harvesting of water at wetlands by bulk supply companies and warned that the city’s groundwater risks being depleted.

There is a proliferation of bulk water companies, mainly in Belvedere, which is in the vicinity of Monavale Vlei, a Ramsar wetland.

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) programmes manager Reuben Akilim said the continued destruction of wetlands was a result of lack of political will to implement tough polices against the practice.

“Lack of regulation of underground water has seen the emergence of water mining commonly known as commercial water abstraction,” Akilim said.

“The pace of ground water abstraction in the city, especially in Belvedere, is not sustainable as we have seen the lowering of the water table in the city and with the rate of ground water recharge which has been affected by destruction of wetlands there is need to urgently take serious action.”

Groundwater is an important component in maintaining hydrological cycle with wetlands.

Harare Wetlands Trust programmes manager Celestino Chari said illegal water harvesting had resulted in wells and boreholes drying up earlier in the year than before.

“Wetlands act as sponges that soak up rainfall and retain water within the local ecosystem and gradually release it downstream.  This provides an opportunity for water to infiltrate into the ground and so make an important contribution to the recharge of groundwater resources,” Chari said.

He said this spelled disaster as the lifespan of the city’s wetlands could not be guaranteed if the practice was left unchecked.

“Development on wetlands results in the loss of the natural vegetation cover and replacement with paved surfaces in the form of roofing, roads and ground paving; this leads to greatly increased runoff, reduced local retention of water and so reduced infiltration to groundwater and thus directly contributing to reduced availability of groundwater.”

Harare Residents Trust director, Precious Shumba urged the local authority to force the bulk water and borehole companies to regularise their operations.

“The reality is that most people have converted their residential stands to commercial without following the necessary procedures before getting into business. The real issue is the widespread depletion of underground water,” Shumba said.

“These company owners are being selfish, doing what they are doing.

The City of Harare must regulate the drilling of boreholes in residential areas and the companies need to work with relevant authorities as they are clearly evading the necessary.”