New twist to Gweru water crisis


BY Brenna Matendere

CITY of Gweru’s persistent water crisis has taken a new twist amid revelations that supplies from Whitewaters Dam have dwindled, while efforts to switch to Amapongogwe Dam from Gwenoro have been hampered by challenges of importing equipment from Germany.

The developments come at a time the city’s main supply dam Gwenoro was set to be decommissioned as its capacity had dropped to 7%.

Town clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza recently said some equipment needed to be imported from Germany in order to complete the process of installing four new pumps procured last month at Amapongogwe Dam.

“The City of Gweru received four pumps on September 3, 2019, to be installed at Gwenoro water treatment plant to pump raw water from Amapongogwe Dam. The contractor has successfully installed two pump sets and is looking forward to installing the remaining two in two weeks’ time once all the materials have been received from Germany,” she said.

Contacted for comment, council engineer Robson Manase said: “There are pump components needed for complete installation of the new pumps to be done. They are called vertical turbine pumps and they will be having so many things. We could not get them from local suppliers because they were priced about five times higher. Again, the local suppliers were demanding a period of about 12 to 15 months to supply, but the foreign supplier we are dealing with managed to take two weeks to supply the first consignment.”

“The good news we are getting from the foreign company we are dealing with is that the equipment has now reached Harare from Germany and this week it will be in Gweru, then installation can proceed.”

Manase said currently White Waters Dam is supplying 1,5 megalitres of water instead of five megalitres due to some technical issues.

“Three filters are currently down at White Waters Dam; that is why we are having reduced supplies. The challenge in solving that problem and fully acquiring improved supplies from White Waters is that the contractor we had engaged demanded US$440 000 and the deal could not sail through due to economic challenges. Again, we realised we needed to resort to Amapongogwe because it is near Gwenoro treatment plant that was designed to supply 90% of Gweru’s water. So in short, we could not concentrate on White Waters Dam because its pumping capacity only supplies a paltry 5%,” added Manase.

Gwatipedza said, in the meantime, residents have to endure tight water rationing.

“Meanwhile, we would like to advise our valued residents that water rationing will continue until the local authority procures high lift pumps, to pump water from Gwenoro water treatment works to the city. As soon as the high lift pumps are procured, the water rationing schedule will be reviewed to ease the water shortages,” the town clerk said.

The revelations are set to dampen residents’ high spirits that had been raised by news that the city council had acquired new pumps. When the pumps arrived last month, on September 3, council advised that the water challenges would be over in two weeks. However, it seems the solution to the water crisis is increasingly becoming elusive.

Gwatipedza revealed that the current water pumping capacity was far below what is needed to adequately meet demand.

“Currently our pumping capacity is plus or minus 45 megalitres per day, but we would have improved water supply if our pumping capacity is at plus or minus 60 megalitres against an unrestricted water supply of plus or minus 80 megalitres per day.”

“We would like to advise our valued residents to use water sparingly. Currently, raw water statistics show that Gwenhoro is at 7% and Amapongogwe 63%,” the town clerk said.