Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
THE Bulawayo City council is struggling to deliver adequate water to some suburbs as farmers are using too much water from the Nyamandlovu aquifer resulting in council getting less than its allocation.
In an interview, Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said the situation was partly to blame for the three-day weekly water shedding schedule the city introduced in most western suburbs on Friday.
The town clerk said affected suburbs fed from reservoirs that draw water from the aquifer.
“We must get no less than 10 megalitres of water daily from the Nyamandlovu aquifer as our system can pump up to 20 megalitres of water. However, farmers are using a lot of water and at the end of the day our pumps only pump below the required minimum amount of water,” said Mr Dube.
“It is quite unfortunate that we have to reintroduce water shedding at a time when the country is battling a cholera outbreak which has cost us lives. However, we have to introduce the programme so that the Magwegwe reservoir, which is in critical condition, can function.
“People may wonder that dams have enough water but council is cutting supplies, it is because we are failing to pump water as a result of cable thefts and most recently as a result of more water being used for agricultural purposes at our Nyamandlovu source”.
He said council was engaging Zesa on coming up with a solution to cable theft.
“We resolved in consultation with Zesa that they replace stolen copper cables with aluminium, which has a lesser value,” said Mr Dube.
He said council was also looking into replacing its infrastructure with aluminium to mitigate problems brought about by infrastructure vandalism.
Mr Dube however, could not be drawn into saying when the temporary water shedding programme would end.
In a public notice, council said Nkulumane, Nketa, Sizinda, Tshabalala, Bellevue, Newton West and West Somerton suburbs would experience water cuts on Monday from 8AM and it will be restored Wednesdays at 6PM. It will be cut again on Friday at 8PM and restored the next day at 6PM.
In Emganwini and Pumula, water will be cut on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8PM and restored on Fridays and Sundays at 6PM.
Mr Dube said in Cowdray Park, Emakhandeni, Gwabalanda and Maplanka, water will be cut at 8PM on Mondays and Fridays and restored at 6PM on Wednesdays and Saturday.
In Luveve, Magwegwe, Njube, Entumbane, Mpopoma, Lobengula, Mabuthweni, Iminyela, Pelandaba and Matshobane, water will be cut on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8PM and restored on Fridays and Sundays at 6PM.
The town clerk said the programme is subject to change if the reservoir levels improve or deteriorate beyond critical levels.
“Residents are urged to conserve water until further notice and the Bulawayo City Council wishes to apologise to its valued customers for the inconvenience caused,” said Mr Dube.
Bulawayo has a history of introducing water shedding as the city faces water shortages either because of low dam capacity or failure to pump adequate water. In 2012, the city made international news after it introduced the “Big Flush”, a synchronised toilet-flushing programme on weekends, aimed at unblocking the city’s sewer system after prolonged water restrictions. The city also introduced water shedding in 2016 after some of the supply dams were decommissioned due to reduced water levels.
Bulawayo draws water from Insiza, Umzingwane, Inyankuni, Mtshabezi, Lower and Upper Ncema Dams, besides the Nyamandlovu aquifer. — @andile_tshuma