Lab gives Harare water thumbs-up

A woman prepares to drink water from a tap in Budiriro, Harare, last week. The results of a study commissioned by The Herald indicate that the water did not contain coliform, a broad class of bacteria. These include human waste and that of other warm-blooded animals

A woman prepares to drink water from a tap in Budiriro, Harare, last week. The results of a study commissioned by The Herald indicate that the water did not contain coliform, a broad class of bacteria. These include human waste and that of other warm-blooded animals

Innocent Ruwende and Felex Share
Water pumped into homes by the Harare City Council is safe to drink and does not contain any bacteria, an independent test commissioned by The Herald reveals
However, the results of the laboratory analysis appears to have done little to quell the scepticism of city residents, many of whom have switched to drinking bottled and borehole water, or first boiling what the municipality pumps into their taps.
The water samples used for tests carried out by microbiologists Ms Rumbidzai Svosve and Mr Tatenda Magara were taken from Rugare and Braeside.

The results indicated that the water did not contain coliform, a broad class of bacteria. These include human waste and that of other warm-blooded animals. Presence of coliform in drinking water indicates the possible presence of harmful, disease-causing organisms.

“The water samples comply with SAZS 560:1997 microbiological specification requirements on all parameters tested with respect to tests carried out,” read the SAZ findings.

Results of a separate chemical analysis commissioned by The Herald are expected today.
Health expert Mr Itai Rusike said there was need for further tests by other private laboratories for comparison purposes.

“Water is said to be safe if it meets the World Health Organisation guidelines. Harare City Council officials should not sit on their laurels because SAZ said their water is safe for drinking because most residents do not have water anyway,” he said.

Another expert who preferred anonymity said Harare water remained a threat to humans.
“Ask yourself why many people have resorted to borehole water. It is because of the smell and dirty particles that come out with the water.

“Of course, another reason could be that pipes spend a lot of time with no water and when it is finally pumped it becomes dirty yet at the source it is dispatched from it is potable.”

The expert said some of the diarrhoeal diseases being experienced in the city were a result of borehole water and drinking from unprotected sources.
“Not all borehole water is safe for drinking as some of them are contaminated. Residents must ensure that the water sources are tested and analysed first before the water is used for domestic purposes to avoid contracting diseases,” the expert said.

Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba contested the SAZ results.
“Authorities should not try to convince citizens that water with brown and black particles is harmless when their eyes can tell it is dirty,” he said.

“The potability should never be doubted by consumers because the moment it is, it means more has to be done to make it safe in their eyes.
“The capacity for the City of Harare to pump enough water has to be enhanced and underground pipes have to be replaced and expanded to match the growing population.”

Mr Shumba said dirty water was discouraging residents from paying bills.
However, city spokesperson Mr Leslie Gwindi defended the quality of tap water.

“At no point has our water been substandard. We have a stringent and clear procedure of water sampling, and have a whole laboratory that deals with that and in the chain our water also goes to the Standards Association of Zimbabwe,” he said.

He said the council had laid down procedures for testing water and followed these religiously.
The 2012 National Census Report shows that at least 75 percent of Zimbabweans enjoy access to clean potable water in cities and rural areas, with Harare having 94 percent of its households connected to safe drinking water.

The report revealed that only 21 percent of the households in Zimbabwe were still drawing drinking water from unprotected wells, dams, rivers and streams.

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  • Tarubva

    what kind of reporting is this? Where is the editor of this paper in all this?
    What are the qualifications of the so called microbiologists, Ms Rumbidzai
    Svosve and Mr Tatenda Magara? Where do they work? What protocol did they use
    to test the water? Answers to these questions will allay fears that a shoddy
    job was done. This should be a given to any editor, and I don’t know why the
    Herald misses that. Qualifications tell us whether the personnel is competent
    enough. Where they work speaks volumes about their integrity:
    compare United Nations and SinoZimbabwe! The protocol tells us what
    they were actually testing, and there are several of them. Does the protocol
    tests for bacteria only or all microbes in general? Does it also test for
    dissolved minerals and suspended solids? Without clarity on these issues, we
    can’t trust the Herald and its “microbiologists”!

    • Pfungwa

      I guess this just goes to show that Zimbabweans are not stupid. We will not be fooled by such nonsense. Lets have something credible. When you have nothing to hide you can invite anyone to do tests. Why this shady work from a couple of sundry individuals whose credentials are unkown. Its a pity and a shame!

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Where is this Municipal water when we have not even a drop in HARARE EAST? We are a forgotten lot and noone in Harare City thinks about us ? Our MP , Senator or councillor are mum about the issue! The Herald should also commission a survey of water supply , instead of reporting about the portabilty of non existent supply in many surburbs! I used to pay my rates religiously , but has since stopped ! I now use the money to purchase water from “legal “ vendors for home consumption! One day I stopped at a robot ! Besides me was a City of HRE Water Dept batttered truck inscribed with a false mission statement on its door ostensibly, on good water services! Nehanda forbid!

  • Prof Matanda

    Please do not deceive the nation. There are hundreds of studies at the University of Zimbabwe that show that harare water contains coliform bacteria, microcystins, heavy metals and now deadly fish parasites. Who is Svosve and Magara and why did you not name their lab, we would fone them and give them correct results. I suspect those are fake people created by your paper to hoodwink the residents.

  • Inwai Mega

    That’s a good one …now prove to us by drinking it in your meetings ka kuHerald ikoko or even kungochera necup wonwa & show your pic to the world tione kana ukaswera waane dehydration as a result of diarrhea ? Inwai mega tap water … the only things it’s good for is bathing and washing cars ……..

  • hehehe

    Imwai moga mvura ine matuzvi, ivo vanoimwa here

  • dern of lies

    lies, if you store Harare city water for 3days turns green.. don’t need you guys to tell us its clean and safe to drink ,you are not a credible paper anymore you lost that tag a decade ago(maybe you want us dead or sickly to diminish opposition support in the cities)..imwai mega mvura kuherald and why are the ministers not drinking-chombo ngaatange then bob ..back to your usual zviya mati tsvangirai atitasei?????????

  • Manje so!

    Obviously the results need verification! The water is clearly dirty and lab results give it a clean bill of safety? Big??????????

  • Jack

    Breaside water is cleaner than CBD water. please test the CBD water.

  • Chindakupazhara

    kana zvikamba ndakuzviona kunze hazvichadi kugara mumvura, musabhadharane kunyepera ruzhinji tinopera ko mapipe acho are they cleaned zvokusvika pakudaro

  • ivor payne

    It is very significant that this article tells us what the water DOES NOT contain..but careful avoids telling us what it does contain. Often the water (if any) is very heavily chlorinated…however this does not remove heavy metals etc which has long been a won’t kill you immediately.. but expect the older members of your family to engage in odd behaviour…..