Bulawayo-based civic society organisations have expressed fears that Mtshabezi Dam will not provide a solution to the city’s perennial water problem as it is located in a poor catchment area.
Contributing to a debate on the revival of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project held in the city over the weekend, National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) western region secretary Anglistone Sibanda said the dam might not be able to fill up quickly once council starts drawing water from it.
“They are saying the catchment is very small such that once it is depleted, it will never fill up,” he said.
“The available water can supply the city for three to four years, but once depleted the dam will never fill up.”
Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo confirmed the dam was located in a poor catchment area.
Moyo said what was worrying was that all the city’s supply dams were located in Matabeleland South, which meant that if the province received poor rains, the city was bound to experience water problems.
“All the city’s supply dams are located in the south,” he said.
“The planners should have thought about putting a dam in the north of the city.”
Mtshabezi Dam is a reservoir on the Mtshabezi River and has a capacity of 11,4 million cubic metres of water.
It is expected to augment the water supply for Bulawayo once a connecting pipeline has been completed.
The pipeline project has been described as a medium-term measure meant to address the city’s perennial water shortages.
Work on the pipeline project, mooted in 1994, was stopped in 2007 due to lack of funding, but resumed years later.