WATER levels in dams supplying major cities and towns in the southern parts of the country continue to diminish, with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) calling for sustainable use of water in the wake of erratic rains last season.
Zimbabwe like most parts of the southern African region received erratic rains during the past rainy season due to the effects of El Nino weather pattern. Figures from Zinwa show that supply dams for Bulawayo, Masvingo and Beitbridge were now below 30 percent of their capacity as at 14 July 2016 and may not last the towns until the next rainy season.
The figures show that Bulawayo is now left with just six months’ supply of water with the city’s supply dams at 22 percent capacity down from about 47 percent about four months ago. Bulawayo’s supply dams are situated in Umzingwane and Insiza with water supply complemented by the Nyamandlovu Aquifer.
Zinwa figures also show that in Masvingo Lake Mutirikwi, the biggest inland water reservoir in the country, is now only at 15 percent capacity, the lowest in over a decade. Water rationing has been suggested and priority will be given to domestic consumption.
In Plumtree — Mhlangwa, Mangwe, Bulilima water sources are at 46 percent and will last the town 16 months, which is well into the next rainy season. In Gwanda, the situation has improved from four months ago when the town was left with just seven month’s supply of water. The town’s water sources Mujeni and Weir Water which were at 39,2 percent in March are now being augmented by water released from Mtshabezi Dam pushing the capacity up to 66 percent now.
In Beitbridge, off river storage, dams for the town are at 12 percent capacity which can only sustain the border town for next two months. However, acting Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager, Mr Tsungirirai Shoriwa said contingency measures had been put in place to avert possible crisis in Beitbridge and Masvingo.
“The town (Beitbridge) has a huge water supply back up in the form of Zhovhe Dam which is currently 90,7 percent full. In the case of Masvingo, adequate reserve would be maintained for the town when releases to the Lowveld Estates are made,” he said.
Mr Shoriwa, however, said most dams across the country continue to hold enough water to last the towns and cities until the next rainy season, but emphasised on the importance of using water sparingly.
“The Zimbabwe National Water Authority continues to appeal to all water users to use the resource very sparingly and efficiently in light of the distressed water levels in some of the country’s water bodies,” he said.
Amapongokwe and Whitewaters, Gwenoro, which supply Gweru are 53 percent full down from 57 four months ago and can last the city for the next 14 months. In Kwekwe, Sebakwe and Lowe Zibagwe dams which also supply Redcliff town are at 57 percent capacity down from 65 percent in March this year and can sustain the city and town for the next 16 months.
The figures also show that dams supplying towns and cities in the northern parts of the country are still above 50 percent.
Dams supplying Harare, its satellite towns and Chinhoyi are still 71 percent full down from 80 percent four months ago, while Claw Dam which supplies Kadoma has gone up to 88 percent from 78 percent four months ago. The low rainfalls have resulted in a drought, with 4,1 million people estimated to be food insecure nationwide. President Mugabe declared the drought a state of disaster.