BULAWAYO MUST LIVE !
- 7/2/2007 <--Prev : Next-->
BULAWAYO MUST LIVE !!
The Water Crisis in Bulawayo.
Bulawayo faces one of the most severe tests of its character this year. It could run out of
water altogether. In 2005/6 the City had a good wet season with 850 mm of rainfall,
despite this only 70 million cubic metres of water flowed into the storage dams - enough
for 7 months consumption. This meant that the City was actually worse off for water at the
end of the 2006 dry season than it had been at the beginning of the wet season.
This wet season has been a disaster from this perspective. To date, after three months of
the normal wet season, dam levels have actually fallen by 212 000 cubic metres. The
actual dam levels as of today's date are:
In addition to the above capacity, on a daily basis only 16 to 18 of the boreholes on the
aquifer are operational yielding 2 500 c/m/d.
| Water Level
| 173 491 000
| 92 989 961
| 80 781 000
| 12 716 350
| 18 237 700
| 8 778 280
| 45 458 500
| 683 880
| 44 663 500
| 574 100
| 362 631 700
| 115 742 571
What is critical in terms of the supply position is that at the above dam levels and given
present off-take (105 000 c/m/d) the City has 10 months supply left. For these reasons
the City has now imposed strict rationing and at the new ration levels (450 litres per low
density household and 300 litres per high density households per day) it is estimated that
the raw water supplies could last for 15 months. This would take the City through the
2007/8 wet season when hopefully enough run off will take place to replenish water
But in fact the situation is much worse than these overall figures might suggest. The daily
supply capacity of the two remaining dams with significant storage (Insiza and Inyankuni)
are 65 000 c/m/d and 20 000 c/m/d each. When lower Ncema runs dry then the full
supply position of the remaining dams is only 85 000 c/m/d. this is insufficient to meet
the minimum needs of the City and large areas will actually go without water for long
periods. Even this supply position is threatened as the delivery capability of the largest
dam, Insiza, is declining as water levels drop.
The bad news does not stop there - at present off-take rates, Inyankuni is not expected to
last much beyond June 2007 unless there are significant inflows. This will then leave only
Insiza as a supply point at the rate of 60 000 c/m/d or fifty per cent of demand. At this
level of supply the water position in Bulawayo will be critical and it is unlikely that the
sewer system will be able to flush itself in the normal way. Very severe rationing will be
required to ensure that every household has at least some water.
We must plan for the worst scenario possible: little further inflows in February and March.
In this case Bulawayo is in a real crisis position. Attention must immediately be paid to the
steps that can be taken to get the City through this situation. The following are suggested:
1. Bulawayo must be declared a Water Shortage Area by the Government. They were
asked to do this last year and Minister Chombo refused. The Council has again applied to
the Government for this to happen (letter written in December) and to date there has been
no response. This is an essential move as it then places control of all water resources in
the area under the control and direction of the Council. This includes all ground water
2. Rationing must be taken seriously by everyone and strictly enforced. People have got
to understand that we are physically running out of water and therefore we have to save
every litre we can.
3. Home owners should consider what they can do to protect themselves and their
families from the shortage by installing additional storage at the house and collecting
water run off when it occurs as well as using ground water to replace municipal water
where ever possible. This might include a neighbourhood getting together to share ground
water resources and putting in a simple local reticulation system.
4. All living here must report leak-ages to the City and insist that action is taken. In
addition, residents should conduct a simple leak test at their homes. Turn off all the taps
in the house and garden and then monitor the meter - if it is still running, you may have a
water leak and this should be attended to by your local plumber. A resident who did this
found that he had a leak under the house and he has had to re-plumb his supply main
reducing their off-take from 2000 litres a day to 300.
5. The City should consider buying water from homeowners with very good ground
6. ZINWA should be reminded that it has responsibility for RAW water supplies to
Bulawayo and that the theft of equipment from the aquifer and the destruction of pipelines
under their management must be attended to immediately. The City gave the Authority Z
$500 million more than a year ago to undertake this task and only 18 boreholes are
7. The government has voted Z$30 billion for the pumping station and pipeline from
the Mtshabesi dam in the Matopos to the pump station at Lower Ncema. This project must
now be placed on an emergency footing and the plans upgraded to allow the system to
deliver the maximum yield of this dam to the City. This would provide an additional 20
000 c/m/d in the short term and would a vital addition to the system.
8. The private sector has proposed that it form a joint venture with the City that will
take over the management of the treatment Works within the City sewerage system with a
view to recovering the waste water and treating and recycling the final product back into
the City water treatment works at Criterion. This project is now far advanced and
agreement has been reached on all aspects. The initial phase is expected to take 12
months to complete and will involve an investment by the private sector of Z$100 billion
dollars. At the end of this investment the new system will feed an additional 30 000 c/m/d
into the raw water supply system. When the further two phases of this project are
complete the project will be capable of delivering 60 000 c/m/d to the City and will supply
35 per cent of total demand.
9. Efforts to block the attempt by government to nationalise the Bulawayo water and
effluent system without compensation and without any plans to augment the local raw
water supply capability must be resisted by all means. ZINWA has a bad record in terms of
its capabilities and management and Bulawayo has an excellent Water and Effluent
department that works well. The reasons for this action are political and have nothing to
do with the welfare of the people of the City. If the take over by ZINWA is forced through
then the initiative of the private sector in Bulawayo to work with the City to help resolve
this crisis will be abandoned as the private sector has said it simply could not work with
ZINWA in the same way as it does with the Council.
10. It is the responsibility of ZINWA to supply the City with raw water. The City pays for
this and there is no reason to change this arrangement. What is urgent is that the projects
that have been on the table for many years to augment the raw water supply of the City
must now be implemented. This must include the rehabilitation of the aquifer and the
construction of the pump station and pipeline from the Mtshabesi dam to the pump
station at Lower Ncema.
11. The project to bring in water from a completely different catchment area to the north
of the City remains a long-term priority. Despite all the talk and the efforts of local
residents to encourage the project, no progress has been made and this remains a serious
failure of government - one that puts the future of the City in jeopardy.
31st January 2007