COMMENT Council must holistically maintain the water shedding schedule at 72 hours

WE are approaching the end of the second month of what is supposed to be the rainy season but most of the country has not seen any rains.

It is still too early for us to judge with certainty, we must state at the outset, but we appear to note signs that regional meteorologists may have got it right when projecting in August that the country will receive normal to below normal rainfall over the October 2023-March 2024 summer farming season.

For Bulawayo, a city that has been many months on a 72-hour weekly water shedding schedule due to a low dam level, the performance of the season is of immense interest.
Council officials, according to the latest edition of our sister paper, Sunday News said the city’s six dams are 45 percent full, enough to last six months at the present subdued consumption.  Umzingwane Dam which is 4,13 percent full, could be decommissioned next month if it remains dry.

Lake Gwayi-Shangani, which was billed to begin impounding water this wet season, is running behind schedule, the Government said on Friday.

We, thus, might be heading for a challenging year if as forecast, conditions remain as dry as they have been since October. That concerns us most deeply.

We regret to say that council does not have an option but to maintain the water shedding schedule at 72 hours. That means continued challenges for residents as well as commercial and industrial consumers. They have to line up at boreholes or fill up when supply is restored after the three days to be able to cook, have a glass to drink and bathe.

They have to forget about the backyard garden which helped them with fresh vegetables. Their lawns will thirst.

In the circumstances, we implore residents and other ratepayers to continue using water sparingly, noting that, indeed, every drop counts.

As yet another short-term measure, there is a need for the local authority, working closely with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, to enhance the contribution of the Nyamandlovu Aquifer to Bulawayo’s water supply.  We are sure the city is not abstracting as much water as it potentially can from that natural reservoir.

It is in this connection that we see the Friday appointment by the Government of a 20-member Bulawayo Water Technical Committee as potentially game-changing.  The team has a 100-day mandate to oversee the rapid improvement of water and sanitation services in the city.

We call on the city to work harmoniously with the team, which is here to work for the benefit of the city not to supplant anyone.

But we remain hopeful that the rains will fall to fill up Bulawayo’s dams, improving supply to the city. This will give the Government more time to finish building Lake Gwayi-Shangani and the pipe link from the dam to Bulawayo so that by this time next year the reservoir can begin impounding water.

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