Bulawayo water crisis: Zinwa intervenes

Bulawayo’s Sizinda residents fetch water from a borehole yesterday

THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has embarked on an urgent programme to rehabilitate at least 34 boreholes at Nyamandlovu Aquifer, which is expected to alleviate Bulawayo’s water crisis. 

The programme aims to restore water production from Nyamandlovu back to 20 megalitres (ML) per day, which will improve water supplies in some western suburbs.

Bulawayo has been facing water shortages that has seen some suburbs  going for more than two weeks with dry taps. The situation was worsened by the vandalism of transformers and boreholes at Epping Forest and Nyamandlovu, which reduced the pumping capacity from 20 ML to 4 ML. This has affected 60 000 residents who rely on water from the aquifer.

The vandalism of electricity and water infrastructure has been described as a national security threat, and last year the Government set up an inter-ministerial committee to find a lasting solution to the issue. 

The committee is composed of representatives from the ministries of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Energy and Power Development, Local Government and Public Works, and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, as well as the Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube.

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The Government also availed US$1,5 million towards the rehabilitation of boreholes at Epping Forest and Nyamandlovu in 2020, as part of the measures to address Bulawayo’s water crisis. Not long after the rehabilitation works were completed vandals reportedly stole transformers that were used for pumping water to Bulawayo.

Zinwa, the parastatal responsible for water management, has taken steps to implement the programme and equip the boreholes at Nyamandlovu, its corporation communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga revealed. 

“Zinwa has embarked on an urgent programme to equip and bring back on board at least 34 boreholes at the Nyamandlovu Aquifer as part of efforts to improve water supplies in the City of Bulawayo. 

“The development is expected to restore water production from Nyamandlovu back to 20 megalitres (ML) per day (20 million litres per day). Water production at Nyamandlovu had dipped to as low as four megalitres per day owing to power challenges, breakdowns and vandalism of some of the boreholes,” said Mrs Munyonga. 

She added that the Nyamandlovu Aquifer is key to augmenting Bulawayo’s water supplies, and urged the public to protect the infrastructure from vandalism and theft. 

Bulawayo City Council Director of Engineering Services Engineer Sikhumbuzo Ncube said rehabilitation works will stabilise the supplies at the Magwegwe Reservoir, which serves some western areas of the city. 

“I have not received any communication regarding that. But its impact will stabilise the Magwegwe Reservoir and improve water supplies to areas that receive supplies from Magwegwe Reservoir. It might mean we shift from daily water restoration strategy in those areas to 72-hour water shedding exercise. However, the impact will not be cross-cutting across the city,” he said. 

Apart from the Epping Forest and Nyamandlovu aquifer, Bulawayo receives its water from Mtshabezi, Upper Ncema, Lower Ncema, Insiza and Mzingwane dams, but some of these dams have received insignificant inflows in the past rainy seasons due to climate change-induced droughts. 

The Government is constructing the Lake Gwayi-Shangani, which is expected to provide a permanent solution to Bulawayo’s water crisis. 

The completion of the dam’s construction will also boost the city’s economic growth, as water shortages have negatively affected the performance of industries and resulted in the relocation of some companies.

Chronicle

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