|Water crisis looms as Gwenoro Dam runs dry|
|Saturday, 26 January 2013 19:23|
Midlands CorrespondentGweru could soon be hit by massive water shortages as raw water reserves at the city’s main water sources have reached critical levels owing to inadequate rainfall the city has received since the start of the rain season, Sunday News has established.
According to dam level figures obtained from Gweru City Council’s engineering department, the city’s main water source Gwenoro Dam was 19 percent full while Amapongogwe was 61 percent full, as at 25 January 2013.
Water levels at Gwenoro Dam are at 92,50 meters with the water quantity measuring 9.550 cubic meters, while Amapongogwe’s water levels are at 96,76 meters with the water quantity measuring 25, 488 cubic meters.
Gwenoro is Gweru’s main water source from which most residential areas get their water supplies, while Amapongogwe complements, albeit servicing a relatively smaller fraction of the city’s population.
A report that was produced by the engineering department which Sunday News is in possession of, suggests that in the event of current rainfall patterns persisting until the end of the rain season in March, Gwenoro Dam will run dry by August 2013 and will be decommissioned.
The report further suggests that water levels at Gwenoro might force Gweru City Council to introduce strict water rationing with effect from the 1st of April this year in order to extend the water reserves into the next rain season.
“Raw water reserve in Gwenoro Dam has reached a critical level, and there has been no inflow to date. In the event that no inflows are received at Gwenoro, the dam will run dry in August 2013. In order to extend this reserve into the next rain season, water rationing will have to be imposed with effect from 1st April 2013,” reads part of the report.
Gweru City Council Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Jones Nanthambwe, confirmed to Sunday News that water levels at Gwenoro and Amapongogwe dams had dwindled with Gwenoro Dam having reached critical levels.
Eng Nanthambwe said the low water levels at the city’s main water sources date back from last year when, again, Gweru did not receive adequate rainfall to fill the two dams.
He revealed that in January last year Gwenoro Dam was at 60 percent capacity, while Amapongogwe Dam was at 84 percent, but owing to erratic rainfall, by the end of the rain season in March last year Gwenoro Dam was 56 percent full while Amapongogwe Dam was 82 percent full. The water levels are what have sustained the city to date.
“This is not a one year draw down but for the past two seasons we have not had enough rains to fill our dams. By the end of the rain season last year, Gwenoro was 56 percent full, and Amapongogwe was 82 percent full.
“Those are the water levels we have been relying on since last year, and because we have not been getting enough rains, the water levels have gone down to such critical levels,” he said.
Eng Nanthambe said Amapongogwe Dam had more water than Gwenoro Dam because the dam is wider and has a larger catchment than the latter, and because the area where it is situated had received better rains than where Gwenoro Dam is situated.
He added in spite of Amapongogwe having more water, water rationing was still a possibility if water levels at Gwenoro Dam do not improve since it is the city’s main water source.
“If you look at it Amapongogwe has a larger catchment and is wider than Gwenoro which explains why the dam has more water. However, that does not mean the situation is going to be better because Gwenoro is our main water source and its water levels remain low we will have to start strict water rationing,” said Eng Nanthambwe.
The Gweru City Council Director of Engineering Services revealed that the local authority has imposed water rationing five times before, twice in the 80s, twice in the 90s and once in the new millennium.