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Water rationing looms in Bulawayo

One of the dams with low water levels is Umzingwane, which is set for decommissioning this month, while the Upper Ncema dam might also be de-commissioned by September thisyear.

BY SILAS NKALA DETERIORATING water levels at Bulawayo’s supply dams could soon force the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to re-introduce tighter water rationing.

One of the dams with low water levels is Umzingwane, which is set for decommissioning this month, while the Upper Ncema dam might also be de-commissioned by September this year.

Latest council minutes indicate that the city’s water levels stood at 58,05% or 240 710 596 cubic metres.

“The consumption trend was at an average of 144,9 mega litres (ml)/day and the daily average raw water abstraction was 145,7 ml/day for clear/treated water production. The total consumption for the month of April was 4 492 209 cubic metres with a daily average of 144 909,97 cubic metres,” the minutes read.

“Average daily consumption for April 2021 last year was 134,3 ml/day and these differences in consumption were due to the different (rationing) regimes in the mentioned periods. As at 20 April, percentage storage decreased from the previous month of March by 0,44% from 58,49% to 58,05%. Total volume was 240 710 596 cubic metres of which the usable volume was 224 125 488 cubic metres.”

Council also stated that during the same period last year, city dams contained 285 264 055 cubic metres of water, which was 10,75% more than the current storage.

“An average net drawdown of 7 908 827 cubic metres was estimated for the month and an abstraction of 5 730 283 cubic metres. Abstraction from supply dams in the month of April 2022 totalled 5 730 283 cubic metres, while Mtshabezi pumped 690 137 cubic metres,” the minutes further read.

“Residents were encouraged to use water within the current consumption levels of 145 ml per day or face an incremental (rationing) regime.

“Contractors at the Gwayi Shangani project were working night shifts with the expectation that Bulawayo would receive water by December 2022. However, council engineers had a problem with the treatment plant which the government (through Zinwa) had planned to set up at Cowdray Park,” the minutes add.

Council also said the Cowdray Park water works was in the master plan and included a pipe to Criterion which would enable distribution by gravity.

Councillor Tinevimbo Maphosa and chairperson of the Future Water Supplies committee, councillor Sikhululekile Moyo said council engineers should be included in planning and implementation of water projects such as the Gwayi Shangani Dam because it would eventually be handed over to BCC.

This week, BCC spokesperson Nesisa Mpofu told State media that the local authority would be reviewing its water levels to find out whether they were sufficient enough to get the city through 21 months.

“The Dams Old Rule states that one should evaluate storage at the end of March, if insufficient…, impose rationing or water (rationing). (Rationing) was postponed to accommodate Independence and Zimbabwe International Trade Fair,” she said.

Water rationing, which might begin this month, usually involves 24-hour shutdowns or 48-hour shutdowns depending on prevailing consumption levels.

  • Follow Silas on Twitter @silasnkala

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