The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
AT least three suburbs in Bulawayo will go for a minimum of eight months without water as it has emerged that the city’s supply dams only received inflows enough to last for a month during the just ended rainy season.
So gloomy is the picture, that officials at the city council said sections of three suburbs — Pumula South, Emganwini and Magwegwe — will only be connected to the council water system provided the supply dams receive enough inflows in the next rainy season which starts around November.
The Bulawayo City Council has already applied to the Government for the water situation in the second largest city in the country to be declared a disaster zone, that would see the unlocking of funding meant to implement urgent short-term measures to address the crisis.
Responding to questions from Sunday News, the local authority’s senior public relations officer, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu, said the city was failing to sustain the daily water consumption rate, hence the affected areas will now be serviced with bowsers and boreholes.
She said the high consumption compared to the low inflows received has necessitated that suburbs, in high lying areas go until the next rainy season without water.
“The current average daily consumption after the declaration of the lockdown has been 126 megalitres a day. This daily average is above the raw water availability of 94 megalitres a day. The net effect of the high consumption is that the high lying areas will not have water until the next rainy season and will be assisted by water bowsers and available boreholes,” said Mrs Mpofu.
She said the affected are parts of Pumula South, Emganwini and Magwegwe although she could not specifically point out which parts of the suburbs. Some parts of Magwegwe North and Pumula South have always experienced water problems in the past.
Mrs Mpofu said the situation was so dire as the city supply dams only received just a month’s supply of water and two supply dams — Umzingwane and Upper Ncema that were decommissioned did not receive enough inflows to warrant reconnection.
“The rainy season has come to an end, with minimal inflows being realised into the city’s supply dams. Total inflows for the season amounted to 12 220 000 cubic metres which is equivalent to just one month’s supply,” she said.
In total the city’s six supply dams have a carrying capacity of 414 627 700 cubic metres, meaning that the
12 220 000 cubic metres received translates to just 2,9 percent inflows during the entire rainy season. According to the latest dam statistics, as provided by the local authority, the city’s supply dams stand at 32,7 percent full.
Mtshabezi which has a capacity of 51 996 000 cubic metres still has the highest levels at 56,7 percent full, Inyankuni, which has a carrying capacity of 80 781 000 cubic metres is 50,3 percent full and Insiza Mayfair, with a carrying capacity of 173 491 000 cubic metres is 35,1 percent full.
Lower Ncema which has a carrying capacity of 18 237 700 cubic metres is pegged at 12,7 percent full, Umzingwane with a carrying capacity of 44 663 500 cubic metres is 3,03 percent full while Upper Ncema which has a carrying capacity of 45 458 500 cubic metres is two percent full.
The city is presently enduring a 96-hour water shedding regime, with indications that this might soon increase to a five-day schedule as the local authority tries to conserve the available water.
According to the submission made by the council to Government, the city requested the release of $910 million for the implementation of key council short term projects, to address the city’s perennial water challenges.
Some of the targeted projects are the extension of the Nyamandlovu Aquifer and the upgrading of the Mtshabezi pipeline.
However, residents said the move by the city council was among the greatest push backs of all times. Bulawayo Progressive Association co-ordinator Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu said the water situation would soon explode into a serious catastrophe.
“Our current leaders have only made the problem worse. As BPRA we have always raised alarm on that supply sources can longer sustain the population. What it means for those residents who are not going to have water is that BCC must find a permanent solution for them. We have heard of residents selling their houses in places where there is no water as life has become unbearable,” he said.