Source: Goodbye water problems as Byo dams spill – Sunday News Feb 19, 2017
Sunday News Reporters
BULAWAYO could have kissed water problems goodbye after it emerged that three of its supply dams, Upper Ncema, Mtshabezi and Insiza Mayfair were now spilling following incessant rains that pounded Matabeleland South on Friday due to a tropical depression.
Yesterday one of the dams, Upper Ncema turned into a mini-tourist attraction as hundreds of people from Esigodini and Bulawayo flocked to the dam to catch a glimpse of the spectacular waterfalls reminiscent of the famous Victoria Falls.
This was the first time the dam had spilled in more than two decades.
“If you came here last year you wouldn’t believe this (spill), you could actually walk into the dam but with the rain gauge at Falcon College recording 132 millimetres this is expected. The last time this dam spilled was in 1994. We have been coming here for years on fishing expeditions,” said an Esigodini farmer, Mr William Sinclair, who has been residing in the area for the past 36 years.
Upper Ncema, has an estimated water holding capacity of 45 458 500 cubic metres while Mtshabezi’s capacity is 51 996 000 and Insiza Mayfair holds 173 491 000.
The filling up and rising of water levels of the city’s supply dams, which had a combined water holding capacity of about 30 percent before the onset of the rains last year comes as a relief to the residents who endured 72 hours of water shedding in October and November last year.
Bulawayo City Council spokesperson Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said despite these positive changes they were still encouraging residents to conserve water so that the city does not once again experience a stringent water shedding regime.
“By midday Saturday we had three dams which had reached their 100 percent mark. These dams are Insiza Mayfair which started spilling end of January 2017 and Upper Ncema, which started spilling on the evening of 17 February 2017 and Mtshabezi which reached the 100 percent mark on the afternoon of Saturday 18 February. The City of Bulawayo is thankful of the inflows that have been received to date and we are seeing a significant rise in the other dams. We encourage residents to, however, continue to conserve water,” said Mrs Mpofu.
According to statistics provided by the local authority, as at Friday evening the other three dams had also received significant inflows with Umzingwane Dam pegged at 59 percent, Lower Ncema 48,19 percent and Inyankuni 38,14 percent full.
However, as Bulawayo was celebrating the water levels its supply dams, the rains have also brought a fair share of misery to people in Bulawayo and its surroundings.
Motorists and the general travelling public were yesterday left stranded after Nkankezi Bridge in Filabusi, along the Masvingo-Mbalabala Road was partially washed away by floods on Friday. Police were deployed to the bridge to ensure that no motorist risked crossing the damaged bridge.
Matabeleland South provincial administrator Mrs Sithandiwe Ncube confirmed the destruction of the bridge and said engineers were working flat out to repair the facility to enable traffic to pass.
“The Masvingo-Mbalabala Road is impassable as the bridge at Nkankezi River was partially washed away by the rains on Friday. It’s a deadly trap because half the bridge was damaged and only one traffic lane remains, which means no car, especially heavy vehicles, can drive through.
“Police are camped there to make sure no one crosses. Engineers are working on the bridge,” she said.
Mrs Ncube said all the water bodies in the province were flooded, with some dams having been washed away, while Insiza Mayfair Dam has had its flood gates opened to prevent it from bursting.
She said the floods had also seen some parts of Gwanda Town and Filabusi going without water as water pumps at supply dams for the two centres have been submerged in the floods.
Mrs Ncube said there were no casualties that have been reported so far, but some families had been displaced by the floods which also destroyed their properties.
“Several dams were washed away. I can mention Wanezi in Insiza District, where three families were also displaced. The families are now camped at Mazeya Primary School.
“A total of 11 people were marooned at the confluence of Mashowe and Tuli Rivers. They were rescued but, however, their property was destroyed,” she said.
Mrs Ncube said the CPU had also issued a directive that children who live in high risk areas should not attend classes until the situation improves.
She said the CPU was working flat out to be on top of the situation.
In Umguza, Redbank area Umguza River was overflowing with flood water as its banks had burst due to excessive rains.
Maize, millet and sorghum were submerged in water and some of it washed away by the rains.
One house close to the Victoria Falls highway was submerged halfway by the flood waters.
Villagers in that areas said they have never witnessed such levels of water before.
“We moved to this area 10 years ago and we have never witnessed such, this water that has flooded our fields is shocking and we do not know when it will subside,” said Mr Edward Sibanda.
In Bulawayo, the flash floods that affected some parts of Cowdray Park had subsided by lat yesterday afternoon. A Sunday News crew could not, however, make it through to the new stands as the road was still impassible.
The Bulawayo City Council last night warned residents who do not put weep holes on their property boundary walls saying this was a violation of by-laws.
In a statement the local authority’s Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, said they would soon prosecute residents who do not comply.
“Particular attention should be taken to ensure compliance with these obligations, and with ensuring that all entrances over drains are adequate and allow the free flow of water. Bulawayo City Council may serve a Notice under the Roads Act [Chapter 13:18] and/or the Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27] on the owners, occupiers or users of any land who do not comply with these requirements. It is an offence not to comply with such a Notice, or with any Planning Enforcement Notice, which if pursued through the courts may result in prosecutions and fines,” said Mr Dube.
As people grapple with the effects of the rain, the Meteorological Services Department said the threat of tropical depression was over as it has now moved to Namibia.
MSD head of public weather services Mr Tich Zinyemba yesterday said the only challenge that remained were the after effects of the tropical depression.
“It’s no longer a threat. It (tropical depression) has moved into Namibia now. The only threat that remains are the after effects, which of course will be dealt with by other departments,” he said.
The tropical depression affected southern parts of the country, particularly Matabeleland South, Bulawayo and parts of Matabeleland North.
According to the MSD the incessant rains saw some stations in the southern parts of the country recording high precipitations in 24 hours.
Matopos recorded 100 mm, Plumtree 97 mm, Khumalo 80 mm, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport 79 mm, Tsholotsho 72 mm and Kezi 42 mm.
Mr Zinyemba said some areas in the region might have received higher precipitations than those recorded at MSD stations.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) last week said at least 100 of the country’s major dams were now full and spilling, raising the risk of flooding in many parts of the country.
Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said floodgates at some filled up dams will occasionally be opened to create space for incoming flood water.
She said this helps to ensure the dams’ safety and maintain the dams’ structural integrity.
“At least 100 of the country’s major dams are now full and spilling, raising the risk of flooding in many parts of the country.
This development has seen Zinwa opening floodgates at some of the filled up dams as a way of creating space for the incoming flood water.
“To ensure the dam safety and to maintain the dams’ structural integrity, Zinwa occasionally opens the floodgates at some of the dams to create spaces for incoming flood water,” she said.
Mrs Munyonga warned communities that live downstream to be on high alert of possible flooding when floodgates at dams near them are opened.