Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has noted with concern the continued discharge of effluent into the environment mainly on underground water sources in urban areas.
The Agency’s manager responsible for Education and Environment Ms Amkela Sidanke said an estimated 366 mega litres of raw and partially treated sewer is being discharged into the environment in most towns daily.
She said the situation has been worsened by the dilapidation of sewer infrastructure and the continued urban population growth which has surpassed sewer treatment capacity.
“In an assessment conducted by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), an estimated 366 mega litres of raw and partially treated sewage is being discharged daily into the environment, particularly from urban local authorities,” said Ms Sidanke.
“Out of the identified 70 Sewage Treatment Plants in the 32 urban local authorities with a combined design capacity to receive and fully treat 579,38 mega litres per day, 21 percent are currently down and non-operational.”
Ambient water quality monitoring results show high phosphate levels in rivers passing through the main cities and towns. This has largely contributed to non-functional sewerage treatment facilities.
Ms Sidanke said though they were hard on the ground rolling out initiatives to minimise pollution they had noted that the fines for environmental offences remain very low hence less deterrent especially in view of the offences committed and the associated environmental costs.
She added that water contamination and pollution remains a major challenge in the country as more water bodies are reduced to dead streams and lakes with associated huge rehabilitation costs, exposing communities to recurring diarrhoeal epidemics and other diseases.
“Communities downstream are being denied access to clean and safe water as required in terms of the constitution of Zimbabwe. On that note, the Agency will continue pressing charges against defaulting local authorities,” said Ms Sidanke.
Currently, she said, there were four cases against local authorities before the High Court and six more would soon be taken to court.