The Sunday News
BULAWAYO has perennial water problems and the local authority has been forced to resort to water shedding to preserve the limited water supplies.
Last week, the council said the water crisis has worsened and weekly water shedding hours had been extended from 72 hours to 96 hours.
Last month the council increased weekly water shedding hours from 48 to 72. Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube warned that high lying areas are likely to be affected beyond the scheduled times, starting tomorrow.
“The City of Bulawayo would like to advise members of public of the review of the current 72-hour weekly water shedding programme to 96 with effect from Monday 25 November 2019.
The programme is being reviewed in a bid to stabilise the reservoirs and prevent them from depleting further.
It is further being implemented in a bid to raise the raw water reservoir level to a comfortable buffer level of 5,5 metres. The current level of 0,76 metres (14 percent) is not safe for the city given the high demand being experienced,” he said.
The city is found in a region characterised by poor rainfall. The average annual rainfall is 640mm and water rationing and restrictions have been the means of supply.
According to a research done by an academic Chrispen Mutsvangwa titled Management of water resources in Bulawayo City (2001), although it is practically difficult to reduce evaporation losses and siltation losses, which however, might require long term conservation methods on an integrated catchment management level, the city has been losing a lot of water through burst pipes.
“The distribution losses, which are the highest, can be easily overcome. A 5-10 percent is classified as low, a 10-20 percent is unsatisfactory and action is desirable. Anything over 20 percent requires an urgent remedial action and this is the case with Bulawayo.”
The council has also been urged to set up other water sources, as all the water catchment dams for the city are located in one area which receives relatively poor rainfall. Bulawayo’s six supply dams —Insiza, Mtshabezi, Inyankuni, Umzingwane, Lower and Upper Ncema, are all located in Matabeleland South province. In his study, Mutsvangwa further argues that water rationing is exacerbated by high distribution losses above the recommended values due to poor system management by the local authority.
“The percentage of unaccounted water in a system has become a measure of not only the physical condition of the system but of the system management as well. Against this background, priority should be given to the reduction of these distribution losses as a way of improving and effectively managing the current water resources.
“This can be achieved through establishing a reliable leak detection system to detect leaks within a shortest period of time and to be followed by repairs. Besides cutting down distribution losses, long-term reliable sources need to be examined like the Zambezi Matabeleland Water Project to be exploited in conjunction with other groundwater aquifers.”
The permanent solution to the city’s water woes is the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) which was first mooted in 1912.
The project involves the construction of the Gwayi- Shangani Dam, which is taking shape through Government funding, and the laying of the pipeline from the dam to Bulawayo.