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City charged over raw sewage

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HARARE City Council has been charged with discharging raw sewage into streams that feed into its main water source Lake Chivero.

CHARLES LAITON

In the matter held at the Harare Magistrates’ Court before regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa last week, the complainant was cited as the State while the accused, the City of Harare, was represented by Simon Takawira Muserera from the Harare water department.

The local authority was taken to court by government after it allegedly defied an order by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to urgently stop contamination of the water bodies.

Prosecutor Sidom Chinzete submitted that on dates unknown to the State but sometime in March 2009, the City of Harare allegedly discharged raw sewage into Mukuvisi River tributary thereby polluting the aquatic environment.

Chinzete also alleges during the same period, EMA officials visited Donnybrook sewage ponds near Mabvuku where they carried out inspections and discovered that the treatment plant was malfunctioning, resulting in raw sewage being discharged into a nearby stream.

The court heard that on October 14 2009, an EMA inspector served the City of Harare with an order to urgently address the crisis by repairing the Donnybrook pond pipes, and secure the pond’s perimeter and submit a section plan of when corrective action would be taken.

But in June 2010, EMA official Tapiwa Munezvenyu reportedly visited Donnybrook ponds and discovered that the pipes were still broken and discharging raw sewage into the nearby stream.

In its defence, the City of Harare said EMA’s order was grossly irrational and impossible to comply with and besides it had not been confirmed by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

“The time given to comply was grossly unreasonable given the amount of money required and the need for City of Harare to go to tender . . . In any event, the accused (City of Harare) denies that it unlawfully discharged sewage into the stream . . . The channel was damaged and that resulted in sewage flowing into the river on its own,” the council said.

Standards Association of Zimbabwe laboratory reports indicated that colitorm bacteria, e-coli and faecal streptococcus were detected from samples collected from Donnybrook, Crowborough outlet and Marimba River.

The council has since made an application for discharge at the close of the State case and Mupeiwa is expected to give his determination on Wednesday next week.

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