Elita chikwati, Senior Agriculture Reporter
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) is now using satellite images to see where land is being irrigated and how much is being irrigated to prevent illegal and unauthorised pumping of water from rivers and dams.
Zinwa is starting this winter cropping season to use the Geographical Information System (GIS) to monitor raw water abstractions along rivers and the actual irrigation done at farms. This will curb illegal water extraction and ensure that holders of water abstraction agreements, comply with their conditions.
Legitimate users of water will be protected from being billed for water drawn by illegal users before the water reaches their abstraction points.
Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager, Mrs Marjorie Munyonga, said the GIS will also allow the authority to detect where farmers may have understated their hectarage when they signed water abstraction agreements.
“Through the new system; every three days, Zinwa downloads satellite images that show irrigation activities and the actual hectarage being irrigated, which allows the authority to note any inconsistencies between what is on the ground and what is on the agreements.
“The satellite images also show Zinwa where there is irrigation activity but without water abstraction agreements, which will then prompt the authority to investigate the source of water for the irrigators,” she said.
Mrs Munyonga said in terms of Statutory Instrument 206 of 2001, all individuals and entities intending to use or using raw water from dams owned and managed by Zinwa for irrigation and other non-primary purposes were required to enter into water abstraction agreements with Zinwa.
The agreements allowed Zinwa to reserve water in the dams for the irrigation farmers and release just what is required under the agreements each day thereby enabling tight management of the water resources.
“ZINWA has already gathered the co-ordinates for the farms with agreements which will make it possible to monitor using the new system.
Mrs Munyonga appealed to all raw water users who are yet to get their water abstraction agreements to approach their service centre offices for help.