Bulawayo City Council decommissions Umzingwane Dam

Bulawayo City Council decommissions Umzingwane Dam

Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
A SECOND supply dam has been decommissioned in Bulawayo, deepening the city’s water crisis, the worst in five years.

The local authority, set to embark on a 24-hour water shedding schedule for all suburbs on November 1, has been forced to decommission Umzingwane Dam due to low water levels.

Upper Ncema Dam was decommissioned in July.

This leaves the city relying on Insiza, Inyankuni, Lower Ncema, and Mtshabezi.

The four dams hold only 30,5 percent of their cumulative capacity.

Council has warned residents who exceed their water rationing limits that restrictors would be installed on their taps, adding a 48-hour shedding schedule may soon be implemented.

The city has been under water rationing since 1984.

Deputy director of engineering services Engineer Mente Ndlovu told stakeholders at a water crisis meeting yesterday that the city’s supply dams hold about 16 percent less water compared to the same time last year.

“The amount of water in the dams is currently 30,5 percent, from last month’s figure of 32,25 percent. The total volume is 126,452,645 cubic metres, of which the usable volume is 109,867,537 cubic metres. During the same period last year, the operational dams contained 193,843,440m3 of water (46.75 percent), which is 16,25 percent more than the current storage,” said Eng Ndlovu.

“It is evident that the available water in the dams needs to be conserved and one of the strategies is to water shed. For a start a 24-hour regime is recommended but a 48-hour regime has been submitted for future planning,” he said.

“The proposed 48-hour water shedding schedule would be implemented if the rainfall situation does not improve. This is a bid to conserve the water and be able to manage the limited resources and declining dam levels.”

He said the city had a deficit of 18 mega litres a day since Umzingwane Dam was decommissioned. The gap was likely to increase due to the high usage caused by high temperatures and high consumption rates, since it is summer.

Eng Ndlovu said the long term projects that council was working on were the Epping Forest and refurbishment of existing boreholes.

“This project will augment the city’s current water supply with an additional 10 mega litres of water per day and it is estimated to cost about $4 million. It is expected to be complete by June next year,” he said.

Eng Ndlovu said there were 25 operational boreholes in Nyamandlovu and Zinwa was planning to drill an additional 20 by December.

Residents have been encouraged to use water sparingly as the dams continue to be depleted and ration limits would further be reduced if the situation does not change.

“The ration limits are still in place and may further be reduced if the situation persists. Penalties will still apply to those who will exceed their limits. Persistent consumers who will continuously use their water above set limits will have water restrictors inserted at their premises. This will only let water trickle to that limit as stipulated,” said Eng Ndlovu.

Council has set daily water allocations for consumers with high density pegged at 500 litres, low density  750 litres, cottages with meters 200 litres, flats with meters 350 litres and flats with bulk meter at  60 percent of average water usage for the past six months.

The industrial areas, central business district and mines are exempt from water shedding.

A representative from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services appealed to council to spare the prisons saying the consequences would be dire and might even lead to death of inmates.

Council promised to look into the matter.

Mr Ndlovu said prepaid water meters would also help conserve water and revealed that over 3 000 residents had volunteered to have prepaid water meters installed at their premises.

Cluster committees which would work to solve the crisis were also set yesterday with religious leaders promising to pray for the rains. — @AuxiliaK

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