Let’s use wa­ter spar­ingly

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

OVER the years, Bu­l­awayo has ex­pe­ri­enced peren­nial wa­ter short­ages ow­ing to the er­ratic rain­fall sit­u­a­tion. The lo­ca­tion of the city’s six sup­ply dams which are domi­ciled in Mata­bele­land South prov­ince has wors­ened wa­ter short­ages in the coun­try’s sec­ond largest city due to the per­sis­tent drought in the arid re­gion.

Chang­ing weather con­di­tions wrought by a mul­ti­plic­ity of fac­tors among them cli­mate change have meant that in­flows into the sup­ply dams have con­tin­ued to dwin­dle against a grow­ing de­mand for wa­ter. With a pop­u­la­tion of just over 600 000 peo­ple, Bu­l­awayo’s wa­ter needs con­tinue to grow. The ad­di­tion of Mt­shabezi to the city’s sup­ply dams has not had the de­sired ef­fect due to pump­ing is­sues.

The re­sus­ci­ta­tion of bore­holes at the Nya­mandlovu aquifer has also not gone ac­cord­ing to plan as a re­sult of fund­ing con­straints. How­ever, de­spite these chal­lenges, the Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil should be com­mended for man­ag­ing to keep the city sup­plied with clean wa­ter and pre­vent­ing it from slid­ing into crises ex­pe­ri­enced in other cities.

The fact that there has not been an out­break of wa­ter-borne dis­eases like cholera and ty­phoid over the years is tes­ti­mony of a solid wa­ter and sewer retic­u­la­tion sys­tem. We com­mend the BCC for man­ag­ing the lim­ited wa­ter in its sup­ply dams and en­sur­ing that res­i­dents do not go with­out the pre­cious re­source while not sub­ject­ing them to strin­gent ra­tioning regimes. We also ap­plaud the peo­ple of Bu­l­awayo for ad­her­ing to coun­cil reg­u­la­tions on wa­ter con­sump­tion and urge them to con­tinue do­ing so as the city’s wa­ter lev­els have plum­meted to wor­ry­ing depths once again.

On Tues­day, the BCC raised alarm over the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing wa­ter sup­ply sit­u­a­tion in the city and urged res­i­dents to use wa­ter spar­ingly. Brief­ing the me­dia in coun­cil cham­bers, the Di­rec­tor of En­gi­neer­ing Ser­vices, Mr Simela Dube, said the city may run out of wa­ter in the next three months if res­i­dents do not use the re­source re­spon­si­bly. He said the city’s six sup­ply dams are hold­ing a cu­mu­la­tive 150 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of wa­ter, which is 36 per­cent of their to­tal ca­pac­ity.

Mr Dube warned that the BCC may tighten the strict wa­ter ra­tioning regime to make the wa­ter last un­til the next rainy sea­son which be­gins at the end of the year.

He said Up­per Ncema, one of the sup­ply dams, has al­ready been de­com­mis­sioned and Umz­ing­wane may fol­low in three months.

Com­pound­ing the al­ready dire sit­u­a­tion is the fact that last year dams gained about two months’ sup­ply from the lit­tle rain that fell. In March this year the city changed wa­ter ra­tioning lim­its to con­serve dwin­dling sup­plies.

House­holds in high den­sity sub­urbs are ex­pected to use 450 litres per day while those in low den­sity sub­urbs are lim­ited to 550 litres per day. The lo­cal au­thor­ity has called on res­i­dents to use wa­ter spar­ingly so that the re­main­ing sup­plies can stretch to the next rainy sea­son. Oth­er­wise, the BCC may be forced into en­forc­ing strin­gent wa­ter ra­tioning.

“I be­lieve if we con­serve wa­ter Umz­ing­wane can take us to the next rainy sea­son with­out us re­sort­ing to fur­ther wa­ter ra­tioning. We’re all aware that we’re al­ready un­der wa­ter ra­tioning. So we’re call­ing on res­i­dents to fur­ther re­strict their wa­ter us­age be­cause if we im­pose ra­tioning on them, it will come with penal­ties,” said Mr Dube.

“Our wa­ter lev­els are now at 36 per­cent of ca­pac­ity. Up­per Ncema Dam has been de­com­mis­sioned as it is now one per­cent full. We’re an­tic­i­pat­ing that Umz­ing­wane will be de­com­mis­sioned in the next three months if wa­ter is not used spar­ingly. But if wa­ter is con­served Umz­ing­wane can take us to the next rainy sea­son”.

The dams’ to­tal in­flows for the whole of last year was just 22 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres while the monthly draw down is nine mil­lion cu­bic me­tres. This means that what was re­ceived from the rains this year was just an al­lo­ca­tion for two months’ sup­ply, pre­cip­i­tat­ing the cur­rent crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Dube, if con­sump­tion re­mains at 120 to 121 000 cu­bic me­tres per day, author­i­ties just might be able to stretch the re­main­ing sup­plies into the rainy sea­son.

He said the fig­ure should not in­crease to be­tween 130 000 and 135 000 cu­bic me­tres per day as it was last year dur­ing the heat wave pe­riod. Mr Dube said the city was ex­plor­ing ways to aug­ment the city’s wa­ter lev­els. He said one way of aug­ment­ing the city’s wa­ter sup­plies was to tap into the Nya­mandlovu Aquifer.

We urge res­i­dents to heed coun­cil’s call for re­straint in us­ing wa­ter. Mea­sures be­ing put in place to con­serve wa­ter can only suc­ceed with the ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion of all stake­hold­ers in the city, par­tic­u­larly do­mes­tic con­sumers. Let’s use wa­ter spar­ingly and en­sure that the ca­pac­ity in our dams takes us into the next rainy sea­son.

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