Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
BULAWAYO’S supply dams have received insignificant inflows since the start of the rainy season and the local authority has said if the situation does not improve the city faces water challenges ahead.
The municipality yesterday released statistics on water inflows showing that the most critical dam to the city, Umzingwane is just eight percent full.
Council considered decommissioning the dam last month but ended up not doing so because of the rains that are being received.
Since the start of the rainy season, water levels in the city’s six supply dams have increased by 22 percent.
The dams are at 56 percent full despite some water bodies in Matabeleland region such as Zhovhe in Beitbridge now full while others like Masvingo province’s Tokwe-Mukosi now spilling.
In a public notice, Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said Upper Ncema dam is at 19 percent full.
Mr Dube said Lower Ncema is almost full at 97 percent, Insiza Mayfair is at 71 percent, Mtshabezi is at 67 percent and Inyakuni is 54 percent full.
Mr Dube said residents should take note that heavy rains received so far have not resulted in significant changes in the city’s supply dam levels.
“It’s raining in other areas and some places have received significant inflows but unfortunately Umzingwane Dam, the dam that balances our distribution and reticulation is very low.
For as long as there are no inflows in Umzingwane we will remain in trouble and people must know that,” said Mr Dube.
“Members of the public do not believe us when we say Umzingwane Dam is that low.
There are no inflows in that catchment area.
We have decided that regularly we inform the public through a public notice so that people may understand the situation of our dams.
For as long as Umzingwane Dam has no water we are in trouble.
Umzingwane Dam needs to rise beyond 30 percent for us to be safe.”
He said Umzingwane Dam last had significant inflows in the 2016/17 rainy season when it actually spilled.
“Normally after every four years we experience a cyclone and that is when Umzingwane Dam spills.
Last year, we were expecting that Umzingwane was going to spill but it did not spill. It only had inflows of between 35 and 37 percent,” he said.
Mr Dube said the rains being received so far stopped the council from decommissioning Umzingwane Dam last year on December 6.
He said council’s hopes that water levels in that dam will rise to 40 percent and provide stability to the city’s water supplies.
Mr Dube said the city’s water consumption needs to be maintained at 140ML per day but sometimes it shoots up to 150ML per day.
In 2020, Bulawayo experienced its worst water crisis which resulted in at least 13 people dying from water related diarrhoea in Luveve suburb.
The water crisis saw Government stepping in to address the city water crisis.
Following President Mnangagwa’s intervention to address Bulawayo’s water crisis, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) rehabilitated boreholes at Epping Forest and Nyamandlovu providing the local authority an additional 20ML/ per day.
President Mnangagwa’s administration has also prioritised the completion of Lake Gwayi-Shangani construction which is expected to be completed at the end of the year.
A 245km pipeline to bring the water to Bulawayo from Gwayi Shangani is also expected to be completed by year end.
Lake Gwayi-Shangani was supposed to be completed last year but shortage of cement among other unexpected challenges including machinery being struck by lightning stalled the progress.
Once completed Lake Gwayi-Shangani, will not just provide a permanent solution to the city’s water crisis but would also turn Matabeleland into a greenbelt for food sustenance.–@nqotshili