BULAWAYO residents could have been exposed to sewage and mud-contaminated water through seepage into burst water pipes, a latest council environmental, management and engineering services committee report reveals.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
This came as the local authority has invited the anger of residents and other stakeholders over a diarrhoea, dysentery and typhoid outbreak linked to rolling water shortages facing the city.
An environmental, management and engineering services committee report showed that quality tests done by the council at its Criterion, Ncema and Cowdray waterworks met prescribed limits for human consumption.
The report, however, revealed that mud and sewage could have contaminated the potable water through leakages linked to water pipe bursts.
The leaks were blamed on ageing water reticulation infrastructure.
“This water-shedding has generally had an impact on the quality of water. This is evidenced by an increase in the number of water complaints received within the city. The complaints are largely related to odour and presence of particles (turbid) in the water, of which various factors have been attributed to these changes in water quality,” the report read.
“The factors include suspected ingress of sewage contaminated water through leaking points into the potable water pipes and occasional depletion of water at service reservoirs and subsequent agitation of accumulated mud in the reservoirs leading to carry-over of the same to the distribution network. Due to vehicle breakdown, sampling of reservoirs was not done twice, hence an increase in the negative variance.”
Council has been dragged to court over the diarrhoea outbreak that has claimed 12 lives, and infected over a 1 000 others.
Bulawayo continues to lose water due to pipe bursts and leaks owing to ageing reticulation infrastructure, with an average of 20 water faults being received per day, the report indicated.
Presently, there were 1 191 outstanding leaks recorded in the month of May 2020, which was higher than 1 054 recorded in April 2020.
“There were 287 reported leaks on service pipes, hydrants and valves. 97,4% of the leaks reported were on service pipes, while 2,6% were hydrants and valves. The leaks are due to the continued ageing of the city’s water reticulation pipes and on the service connections just before the meter,” the council report added.