Harare drying up, Council warns

By Natalie Chiwomadzi and Tendai Sahondo

HARARE could soon dry as the crippling water crisis in the city has reached alarming levels.

Addressing a press conference today, chairperson of the environment management committee Kudzai Kadzombe said the council is now dispensing 300 million litres against a demand of 1200 million litres a day.

“Our water demand stands at nearly 1200 million litres a day against a combined design capacity of not more than 710 million litres a day.

“We are however not able to produce water equivalent to our design capacity. We are managing an average 300 million litres a day hardly enough water to satisfy growing demand,” she said.

Kadzombe said the long-lasting solution to the city’s water crisis is hinged on the construction of new water sources such as Kunzvi, Musami and abstraction of water from Mazowe dam.

“In the absence of these facilities, our fears are that Harare may soon dry up. We are aware that because we are in drought season- even the boreholes that we are drilling may soon dry up as well because the water table is now stressed,” she added.

Harare City Council says requires an excess of RTGs$35 million every month to treat water against monthly revenue collections amounting to only RTGs$15 million.

“We now require in excess of RTGs35 million every month to treat water against a global revenue collection averaging RTGs15 million.

“In short our collections are not anywhere near levels to satisfy our water treatment bill. Our various customers owe the city nearly RTGs1 billion,” she said.

The chairperson also revealed that the available sources of water are heavily polluted which becomes an expense in treatment.

“The cost of water treatment chemicals has also increased by a factor of more than 10 since all the chemicals we use are either 100% imports or have major forex components,” she added.

Kadzombe said the city is currently carrying out tests with local companies for a new water chemical which can replace three chemicals currently being used.

“This can cut our current bill by third and this will improve our yield per day as it will also deal with odour, algae and kill bacteria, making more water available to our residents,” she said.

Harare City Council also revealed that the preliminary indicators show that the new chemical, chlorine dioxide will restore confidence in tap water through improved quality of the distributed product.

“We are however not limiting our scope to chlorine dioxide and we are also trying other alternatives,” she added.

Meanwhile, water levels in dams like Manyame, Chivero and Harava are receding at alarming levels forcing the council to take action.

“Council is not folding arms. We have engaged Government to declare the water crisis an emergency so that funding partners can come on board and help invest in the water sector.

“We are also working with DDF to drill boreholes in Glenview,” said Kadzombe.

Kadzombe also added that the council procured fourteen 5000 litre bowsers that are still under fabrication in Harare, expected to be deployed in the next two weeks.

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