12 000 boreholes run dry — Minister

Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent—
At least 12 000 boreholes countrywide no longer produce water due to the low levels of the water table caused by drought that has hit the country in successive years. Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said last week that the situation was bleak, as the country’s water sources were drying up and would force most cities and towns to introduce strict water management strategies.

She revealed this while briefing journalists on the prevailing dry weather conditions and the need to conserve water. “Our water sources are drying up in all the seven catchment areas, namely Mazowe, Runde, Save, Manyame, Sanyati, Gwayi and Mzingwane due to low rainfall patterns over the past five years,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.

“For instance in Mashonaland West there are (990) non-functional boreholes, Masvingo (1 327), Midlands (399), Matabeleland North (1 775), Matabeleland South (2 087), Mashonaland East (2074), Mashonaland Central (2 699) and Manicaland (1 640).

“Our livestock and wildlife are equally threatened as there will be shortages of drinking water. Crops have not been spared and most farmers are now seeing their crop as complete write-offs.”

Minister Muchinguri said most dams did not have enough water to last the country to the next rainy season. “This paints a bleak picture as some towns and cities will have to resort to strict water management strategies,” she said.

“As I speak, some of the dams are drying up, for example in Manicaland, Osborne Dam used for irrigation stands at 33 percent full, Chesa and Mazowe dams in Mashonaland Central used for water supply and irrigation are 33 percent full and 31 percent full respectively, Seke and Kotwa dams in Mashonaland East are 34 percent and 14 percent full respectively, Chibero and Suri-suri dams in Mashonaland West are 29 percent and 35 percent full.”

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the ground water levels, especially in cities such as Harare were under serious threat as the water table continued to recede because people resorted to the use of ground water as an alternative to municipal water.

She called for the adoption of water-tight dam and conveyance systems, saying farmers should embrace drip irrigation systems to conserve water. “The few boreholes that are still yielding potable water need to be well looked after by ensuring the water is not used for bulk water sales and brick moulding, this time around,” she said.

“Let us go back to conservation agricultural practices that limit evaporation. We need to encourage drip irrigation technology so that we target our limited water to plants and crops.” Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Government would not tolerate local authorities’ negligence over burst water pipes.

“Our water delivery pipe network must be closely monitored 24-7 so that we reduce unaccounted for water to the barest minimum,” she said. “Local authorities should account for burst water pipes. We cannot continue to leave burst pipes of raw and treated water unattended to.”

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Government was concluding a Memorandum of Understanding with Sino Hydro which would see Sino-Zim being given the responsibility to build and manage operations for the construction of Kunzvi Dam for supply of water to Harare.

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