Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties poi­son­ing wa­ter bod­ies

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Ticha­fara Bepe

UR­BAN lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are the big­gest pol­luters of nat­u­ral wa­ter bod­ies, with the Harare City Coun­cil and sur­round­ing towns the ma­jor cul­prits, the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Author­ity says.

Tribu­taries of rivers that pass through ma­jor towns and cities such as Harare, Bu­l­awayo, Gweru, Chi­tung­wiza, Maron­dera, Kadoma, Chin­hoyi and Nor­ton show higher lev­els of pol­lu­tion rel­a­tive to those in ru­ral ar­eas.

Scum and in­va­sive weeds in lakes Chivero and Manyame, EMA adds, show signs of a “high-nu­tri­ent load com­ing from sewer dis­charges”.

EMA com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Ms Joyce Cha­pungu told The Sun­day Mail re­cently that, “The pol­lu­tion is em­a­nat­ing from dis­charges of un­treated and poorly treated sewage from the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties’ sewer col­lec­tion and treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties.

“Ex­am­ples of such rivers in­clude Muku­visi, Marimba Ny­at­sime and Ruwa River in Up­per Manyame Catch­ment, Mazai, Mat­sheamh­lope and Umguza River in Gwai Catch­ment, as well as Se­bakwe and Kwekwe River in Sany­ati Catch­ment.

High phos­phates and man­ganese con­cen­tra­tions and low dis­solved oxy­gen lev­els have been found to be the ma­jor con­tam­i­nants in wa­ter bod­ies in and around ur­ban ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to the agency.

“The al­gal blooms (green-coloured scum) on the sur­face in lakes Chivero and Manyame and the in­fes­ta­tion of wa­ter weeds such as wa­ter hy­acinth are ev­i­dence of the eu­trophic (plant con­ducive) con­di­tions of the lakes caused by high nu­tri­ent load com­ing from sewer dis­charges,” ex­plained Mrs Cha­pungu. Sany­ati, Save and Ma­zowe catch­ments are con­sid­ered the least pol­luted. How­ever, Yel­low Jacket River in Ma­zowe is con­tam­i­nated with high con­cen­tra­tions of heavy met­als such as iron and man­ganese as a re­sult of acid mine drainage ef­fects from min­ing op­er­a­tions in that area.

Last year, EMA flagged min­ing op­er­a­tions across Zim­babwe as ma­jor sur­face-wa­ter pol­luters through toxic chem­i­cals such as mer­cury, which of­ten end up in dams and rivers.

EMA says it will push Govern­ment to set aside funds for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and up­grade of the na­tional sewer in­fra­struc­ture.

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