The country is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in 25 years. This has been the result of the El Nino induced drought that has engulfed the region. Most parts of the country have received below normal rainfall and a number of cities and agricultural areas are water insecure.
The depressed water levels have even presented water allocation and planning challenges for water managers such as the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) as the authority strives to perform the delicate act of balancing the ever competing water needs.
What the drought mean is that there is limited water for domestic use, agriculture, industry, mining, livestock and even wildlife, a situation that calls for concerted efforts by stakeholders and water users to ensure that the limited water is stretched to the maximum. We need the country to reap the maximum benefits from the limited water around.
However, at a time when the country is looking up to stakeholders and all citizens for solutions and water conservation and efficiency, ZINWA is currently witnessing a very worrying trend which will have the net effect of worsening water availability.
The worrying development pertains to water pollution which is taking place especially in the urban areas and mining areas. In most urban areas, the local authorities are discharging raw sewage effluent into water bodies such as rivers and dams adversely affecting water quality and the any aqua-life in the water bodies.
This may be due to their ageing sewer treatment infrastructure. In other cases, burst sewer pipes are left unrepaired for weeks with the sewer coming out of the bursts finding its way into streams near residential areas.
The sewer that ends up in the streams eventually flows into larger water bodies such as dams and rivers. In some cases the sewer forms pools and the water slowly seeps into the ground, eventually compromising the quality of groundwater.
In those areas where illegal panning for gold is rampant, the gold panners have destroyed river courses and have also caused serious damage to the environment.
Panning also involves the use of dangerous chemicals such as mercury which also destroys the quality of the water. Mercury is hazardous to an extent of even causing deaths of livestock, fish and wildlife.
By polluting water, polluters are technically making the water unavailable for use by other users such as municipalities, wildlife and farmers. They also make the water very difficult to use. When water in dams used by local authorities for domestic purposes gets it quality severely compromised, the water becomes very difficult to treat and make possible for human consumption.
This will entail the use of more and sometimes very expensive water treatment chemicals. Unfortunately these high costs tend to be borne by innocent water consumers who would have played no part in the pollution of the water.
In some instances the effects of the pollution manifests themselves through disease outbreaks which may result in the unnecessary loss of human life and the investment of large amounts of resources to rectify the situation.
This therefore calls for all stakeholders, especially local authorities, industry and mines to reconsider the impact of their actions before polluting water.
Water is life and the country is not yet out of the drought situation. We have to conserve every drop in its highest quality.
The country cannot afford the luxury of polluting water. The responsibility is for everyone to shoulder and that way, the future is guaranteed.
For more information you can contact the ZINWA Corporate Communications and Marketing Department on [email protected] or visit www.zinwa.cozw. You can also like the Zimbabwe National Water Authority Facebook Page or follow us on Twitter. Our handle is @zinwawater.