One day of water per week for parched Bulawayo

Bulawayo water

The Bulawayo City Council has decommissioned Lower Ncema dam after it reached 6,49% water level, bringing to three the number of decommissioned dams, a development which has worsened the water situation in the city which will see the local authority extending the water rationing to 144 hours out a possible 168 hours per week.

By Silas Nkala

The other dams that have been decommissioned are the Upper Ncema and the Umzingwane dams.

In a notice, Bulawayo town clerk Christopher Dube informed residents and stakeholders that Lower Ncema dam, at 6,49%, was being decommissioned due to low water levels.

“Since the decommissioning of the Upper Ncema and Umzingwane dams, the city has been unable to meet its daily demand which averages 155 megalitres per day. 

“The maximum available raw water supply is currently at 94 megalitres per day. 

“As a result of the gap between demand and supply of 59 megalitres per day, the city has been on water shedding since February 2019,” he said.

The local authority prefers to call its water rationing regim “water shedding”.

Dube said the rationing regime has been progressively implemented from the 48 hours, 72 hours, 108 hours to 120 hours regime.

“The daily water consumption for the period ending April 30 has been averaging 110 megalitres per day which is above the available raw water of 94 megalitres per day. 

“When Lower Ncema is decommissioned, only 60 to 65 megalitres per day of raw water will be available for the city from three supply dams and Nyamandlovu aquifer. 

“In order to avoid the system from collapsing (sic) due to the supply demand deficit, a more stringent water supply regime of 144 hour will be introduced,” he said.

BCC continues to intensify its water rationing due to dwindling water levels at the city’s supply dams and challenges in balancing its raw and clean water reservoirs at the Criterion water treatment plant.

The city has since appealed to the government to declare Bulawayo a water crisis area so as to attract aid to build the water infrastructure that will alleviate the prolonged water problems in the city.

Bulawayo’s salvation is said to lie in the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Programme, but more than 100 years since it was conceptualised, chances of it coming to fruition are close to zero.


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