Harare loses US$4.8 million worth of treated water every year

Ivan Zhakata

Herald Correspondent

The City of Harare uses about US$24 million at Morton Jaffaray Treatment Plant every year to purify approximately 108 000 mega litres of water that is delivered to Epworth, Chitungwiza, Ruwa, Chitungwiza and the city itself.

However, 20 percent of this amount, which adds up to US$4.8 million, is sunk into the soil through the endless pipe bursts across the capital city.

This loss of ratepayers’ money translates to US$400 000 every month and US$13 333 on a daily basis.

This comes as the City of Harare has been struggling to supply adequate water to residents due to shortages of chemicals.

Unfortunately, this has seen residents resorting to alternative sources of water, with some of them accessing unsafe sources and being infected with diarrhoea diseases.

In an interview, Harare’s Mayor Councillor Jacob Mafume said every month Harare needs at least US$2 million for water treatment.

“We produce about 300 mega litres of water per day. Water is not free; it takes a whole lot of effort to clean it. Every month we use approximately US$2 million on water chemicals alone.

“This water is inadequate and our target is 520 mega litres per day.

 

“Part of our water comes from Chivero and Manyame. Chivero is our waste management system so our water is quite dirty and it takes more effort to clean it,” said the Mayor.

He added that there are future plans to divert cleaner water from Marondera and the Eastern Highlands, which will be less costly to treat.

Harare’s major water treatment plant, Morton Jaffary, has the capacity to treat about 700 mega litres of water every day but it has been running at less than half that capacity for several years.

In an interview, Council spokesperson Mr Stanley Gama said the water treatment costs are that high because the chemicals are imported.

Mr Gama attributed the lack of adequate water supply in the city to burst water pipes and said there is need to replace all the pipes in the capital.

The opposition-led council has failed to replace the pipes after decades of running the local authority.

“We need as much as nine different chemicals to treat our water because of the levels of contamination in Lake Chivero where we draw our water,” he said.

“Our pipes are very old. We have about 5 000km of mostly old pipes that were put in place many decades ago so they are now rusty. The solution to the treated water loses is to replace all the pipes but it is a mammoth task that needs a lot of money.

“It is a really big challenge but we are trying. We will borrow or seek partnerships with private companies,” he said.

“The leakages account for 20 percent of our treated water then we lose more, about 40 percent, through non-payment of water bills and illegal connections which we are fighting to reduce. The figures differ every month so we use percentage estimates.

“We call this non-revenue water,” said Mr Gama.

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