Harare water shocker

Raw sewage is spilling into Harare City Councils supply streams every day resulting in poor quality of water, posing a serious health hazard to the capitals residents as they are drinking more chemicals than water.

This follows disclosures that 90 megalitres of raw sewage was spilling into Harares supply streams. The revelations come at a time Harare has been battling a typhoid outbreak which affected over 1 500 people across the capital.

Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi yesterday said the local authority was only able to purify 54 megalitres of the 144 megalitres of contaminated water that passes through its Firle Main Waterworks daily.

Giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, Mahachi said 90 megalitres were left untreated.

At the main treatment works that can treat 144 megalitres per day, what we have been able to do is to make sure we treat 54 megalitres per day, said Mahachi.

Nothing was working when we took over
management of water in 2009 and yes, 90 megalitres of waste water is going into rivers and all we can do is to make sure that the water is potable (safe for drinking) by using eight to nine chemicals to clean it.

The portfolio committee chaired by Tsholotsho South MP Maxwell Dube had summoned Mahachi to appear in Parliament to explain what the city council was doing to address issues of burst water pipes, especially those feeding the dams, issues of seepage at river banks and why the local authority was dumping refuse along river banks.

Last month, the committee visited Harare waterworks and found an unpleasant situation there, including smelly water.

A member of the committee, Murewa West MP Ward Nezi, said the council should accept responsibility for skin diseases Harare residents might suffer due to poor quality of water and the fact that they were drinking more chemicals than water.

But Mahachi said the water had been certified safe for potable use by the World Health Organisation.

The African Development Bank has availed $45 million, which is going to sort out some of these problems.

China Exim Bank also availed $50 million for water reticulation systems, and that money is going to be utilised this year and for the next two years. For bigger water pipes, it is going to take us three years to sort them out, he said.

Mahachi said the Ministry of Finance had allocated $17,1 million to council of which $7 million was dedicated to treatment of water and sewer rehabilitation and $2, 4 million was used for reticulation to ensure high-density areas did not have overflowing sewers.

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