via Residents resolve to conserve wetlands | The Zimbabwean 30.10.13 by Nelson Sibanda
Residents of Highlands in Harare have resolved to conserve the little underground water left in their area through preservation of wetlands.
Some 400 residents converged at the Highlands Presbyterian Church yesterday evening and shared ideas on how they would best conserve the wetlands under siege from urban farmers and land developers.
They also probed causes of the disappearance of wetlands and the receding underground water levels.
Patron of the recently formed Wetlands Survival Forum, professor Chris Magadza, partly blamed the water shortages around Harare and other towns on wetland farming and disrespect of laws by some government officials who allocated stands on the wetlands.
Magadza said if conserved, wetlands would trap soil and waste matter headed for rivers and lakes.
“There is no reason why a government minister or anyone should defy town planning intelligence and laws governing wetlands, by turning them into residential and commercial areas,” said Magadza.
Magadza said he had submitted a dossier to responsible government ministers in this regard.
Geologist, Timothy Broderick, said Harare had over 10, 000 recorded boreholes despite their negative impact on the water table and national underground water reserves.
Most of the boreholes were in the Northern Suburbs.
“Residents should realise that of the annual rainfalls the country receive an average 2-4 percent of the water sinks into the ground while the rest is lost to runoff. This should give us reason to be more careful and protective of wetlands,” Broderick said.
Residents were made aware of consequences associated with ground water mining.
Harare mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, said there was need for residents to consider the negatives associated with use of boreholes.
“Boreholes have turned from a solution to water woes into an enemy. Our water problems are as a result of over 25 years of a planning deficit and we should do the right things now,”
He said the situation was worsened by the recent forced cancellation of debts owed council by residents.
Harare council wrote-off over $300 million owed by defaulting residents.
He said Harare was pumping an average 500 mega litres of water to residents against a 2,3 million mega litre requirement.
Harare Water Engineer, Hosiah Chisango, told the residents that the $144 Zimbabwe-Chinese Bank water services resuscitation deal would start bearing some fruit from March next year.
“We expect the deal to start improving the water situation around March 2014 though some tangible changes would be noticeable in December this year,” said Chisango.
Residents pointed out that Harare water woes were mainly caused by corrupt government and council officials, who parceled out wetlands to developers against the town’s development plan.
Soil vending was also cited as a contributory factor.
Residents vowed to formally resist further grabbing of the wetlands by urban farmers and land developers.