Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
Water problems bedevilling Harare are set to persist as the MDC-led council yesterday said it has no immediate solution to end the challenges, saying the situation is in fact, heading for the worst.
The local authority has failed on basic delivery of clean water which is a constitutional provision guaranteed in Section 77, leaving residents exposed to a ticking health time bomb.
Harare said it lacks adequate funding to procure chemicals for treating water as it is currently collecting $15 million monthly against the required $35 million for chemicals per month.
Environment Management committee chairperson councillor Kudzai Kadzombe yesterday said they were failing to produce water equivalent to their design capacity, managing on average 300 megalitres against the demand of 1 200 megalitres hardly enough to satisfy its growing demand.
Clr Kadzombe said even boreholes being drilled across the city may just be a drop in an ocean.
“Our water is heavily polluted hence very costly to treat. We now require in excess of $35 million every month to treat water against a global revenue collection averaging $15 million. In short our collections are not anywhere near levels to satisfy our water treatment bill. Our various customers owe the city nearly $1 billion. We are also working with DDF to drill boreholes in Glen View. We are aware that because we are in a drought season even the boreholes that we are drilling may soon dry up as well because the water table is now stressed,” she said.
The council, which has been sending mixed signals now pin its hopes on Government.
“Council is however, not folding its arms. We have engaged Government to declare the water crisis an emergency so that funding partners can come on board and help invest in the water sector,” she said.
“The long lasting solution is the construction of new water sources such as the Kunzvi, Musami and Mazowe dams. In the absence of these facilities our fears are that Harare may soon run dry,” said Clr Kadzombe.
The councillor said they had also procured bowsers to ease the water challenges.
“Council has procured 14 by 5 000 litre bowsers that are still under fabrication here in Harare. We expect deployment of the bowsers in the next two weeks.
“Council has plans to build two new wastewater plants with a view of establishing recycling plants that would invariably increase water availability,” said Clr Kadzombe.
She also implored sister local authorities around Harare to treat their wastewater before discharging into Lake Chivero and Manyame.
“We understand that because tap water is in short supply, some residents are using shallow open wells. That water requires pre-treatment before consumption,” said Clr Kadzombe.
She said the cost of water treatment chemicals has also increased by a factor of more than 10 since all the chemicals being used are either 100 percent imports or have major forex components.
“We are currently carrying out tests for a new water chemical which can replace three chemicals we are currently using. This can cut our current bill by a third and this will improve our yield per day as it will also deal with odour, algae and kill bacteria, making more water available to our residents.
“Preliminary indications show that the new chemical, chlorine dioxide will restore confidence in our water through improved quality of the distributed product. We are, however, not limiting our scope to chlorine dioxide we are also trying other alternatives,” she said.