Bulawayo needs US$14 million for emergency water solution

BULAWAYO needs at least US$14 million to immediately alleviate the city’s perennial water challenges, Bulawayo mayor Councillor David Coltart has said.

He said the funds are meant to facilitate the rehabilitation of dams, constructing diversionary pipelines from alternative water sources, and beefing up security for existing infrastructure.

Given the poor rains this season and weaker inflows into major supply dams, water provision has become a nightmare for Bulawayo, which has adopted a tight water-shedding regime of 120 hours to conserve the little water in store.

The city has also been growing, with new suburbs being built, meaning the population has been growing, yet there has been no corresponding effort to augment water provision.

Since the beginning of the year, some suburbs have not had running water for more than a week, and the situation has worsened in recent weeks.

“The city received approximately $565 000 from the Government to address the water crisis. 

“The city is in an emergency and the Government needs to urgently address this issue. The city needs US$14 million,” said Cllr Coltart.

Bulawayo draws its water mainly from the Nyamandlovu Aquifer, Epping Forest, Mtshabezi, Upper Ncema, Lower Ncema, Insiza, and Umzingwane dams.

Mayor David Coltart

The required funds, Cllr Coltart said, would go towards the upgrading of Inyankuni Dam, installing a diversion pipeline on the Mtshabezi pipeline to Umzingwane pump station, getting the Nyamandlovu aquifer pumps to full capacity, and also duplicating the pipeline from Insiza to Ncema water purification works.

Cllr Coltart said in addition to getting the pumps in Nyamandlovu to full capacity, the city was also concerned about the situation which has been worsened by the constant vandalism of transformers and boreholes at Epping Forest and Nyamandlovu.

“The funds will also go towards beefing up the security of the infrastructure in that area. Our dams are low and none of the rivers into them are flowing. On Wednesday, I inspected the Umzingwane River upstream of the Umzingwane Dam. 

“The river is bone dry, there aren’t even puddles. At this time of year one would expect at least puddles,” said Cllr Coltart.

He said the Government urgently needs to declare Bulawayo as a water shortage area and urgent financial assistance is needed to take a variety of short-term remedial measures to mitigate the crisis.

Cllr Coltart said BCC and local engineering companies are capable and can refurbish and engineer equipment that will facilitate water supplies to the city.

“This needs to be done as a matter of extreme urgency. The BCC and local engineering companies can do all of this but we need urgent financial assistance to do so,” said Cllr Coltart.

The Bulawayo water problem is a perennial issue hence the Government has undertaken to expedite the construction of the Lake Gwayi Shangani project, with a pipeline from Gwayi to Bulawayo already being constructed as the long-term answer.


The construction of the dam has progressed steadily in recent years and it is hoped once the dam and pipeline are complete, water challenges will be a thing of the past in Bulawayo.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) last year announced that it embarked on a 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.

According to the council, the water situation in the city is 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. BCC director of engineering services engineer Sikhumbuzo Ncube has said rehabilitation works will stabilise the supplies at the Magwegwe Reservoir, which serves some western areas of the city.


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