Dam levels still critically low at 37,9%: Zinwa

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ZIMBABWE National Water Authority (Zinwa) chief executive officer, Jefter Sakupwanya has said dam levels in most parts of the country are still critically low, despite heavy rains received in some regions.

By KHANYILE MLOTSHWA

Addressing stakeholders at a Matabeleland water crisis workshop in Bulawayo on Monday, Sakupwanya said in areas such as Mount Darwin and Umzingwane, Zinwa was being forced to pump out dead water normally reserved for aquatic life, as the situation was dire, with boreholes drying up.

“The dam levels are at a national average of 37,9% as of December 9, 2016,” he said.

“This is the lowest level to be reached by our dams at this time of the year since 1995. We are experiencing the worst drought in 25 years. Surface water sources started drying across the country as early as August 2016.

“Water rationing in some parts of the country started as early as May, barely a month after the end of the 2015/16 rainy season. Boreholes have completely dried up in some areas. A total of $18,3 million is required to embark on mitigation measures. Of that amount, about $13,7 million is required to implement mitigation strategies for the critical stations.

“At the onset of the rainy season in October 2015, we had a national average of 63,6% water level in our dams. But that has gone down to 37,9%, when around this time, we should be sitting at 60%.

“At this time of the year, dam levels should be increasing, but only five have recorded increases across the country due to rainfall received so far, this season. Umzingwane Dam in October 2015 was 64,2% full, but today is 43% full.”

Sakupwanya challenged stakeholders to come up with innovative ideas to save the situation.

“As Zinwa, we are drilling and rehabilitating boreholes in areas where water sources have dried up. We are releasing water from dams with adequate amounts to stressed dams. We are also involved in the construction of infrastructure such as small pipes to help convey water to stressed areas. In Mount Darwin, we have used water bowsers to supply people with the precious liquid. The authority has put together a drought response committee to help draw up strategies to combat the effects of drought.”

Speaking at the same event, Bulawayo City Council’s principal engineer, Sikhumbuzo Ncube, said the local authority was piloting a water reclaiming project at Khami for industrial use.

“The government, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and the BCC are rehabilitating Khami water for industrial use.

The scope entails treatment works and a pipeline to the city. The project’s completion date is July 2017. Does it make sense to give someone quality water just for boilers? And charge them the standard tariffs for that? We feel it is better to give them recycled water and free the rest for drinking.”