Dry festive season for Byo residents

Mayor David Coltart on Thursday said the city was experiencing acute water shortages, which required urgent attention.

BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has called upon the government to declare the city a water crisis area as residents endure punishing long periods without the precious liquid.

Mayor David Coltart on Thursday said the city was experiencing acute water shortages, which required urgent attention.

“We need to engage in both short-term and medium term measures, the future water supply committee resolved that the city be declared a water shortage area,” he said.

“A resolution will be brought to full council meeting and we anticipate that resolution will be passed that we request government to declare the city as a water shortage area.”

With forecasts of poor rains because of the El Niño-induced phenomenon, there are fears that the water challenges will worsen an already critical situation when residents are going for days without water.

Declaring the city a water crisis area will pave the way for emergency funding towards short-to-medium term intervention projects.

Last month, government appointed a 20-member technical committee to oversee implementation of intervention projects over a 100-day period.

However, the water challenges have worsened.

Coltart said they wrote to Local Government minister Winston Chitando last week apprising him of the water challenges and the required interventions.

“As a matter of urgency, we need the Nyamandlovu aquifer to be refurbished. Pumps have been vandalised, an electrical switch gear has been stolen and we believe that if that is given priority and urgency, that will immediately provide another 15 megalitres of water per day,” he said.

“The second issue relates to a pipeline which we need to construct from what we call Mtshabezi reservoir to a pump station at Mzingwane, this a 2,5km pipeline. We urge the government to discuss this with us so that we can get that done in the short term.”

Coltart also announced that residents would face a dry festive season due to a new 120-hour water-shedding programme.

“We understand that this is going to cause immense hardship, especially to those in high-density suburbs. But after an intense meeting this afternoon, this council has unanimously resolved that we have no option but to increase the water-shedding hours,” he said.

The city’s water supply dams are 43% full.

“And somehow these figures are misleading because most of our water is being held at Insiza and Mtshabezi and we cannot draw sufficient quantities of water from those two dams because of the deficiencies in the pipeline,” Coltart said.

He said the situation has been aggravated by erratic power cuts which have affected the two main reservoirs, Tuli and Criterion.

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