Vusumuzi Dube, Municipal Reporter
NYAMANDLOVU aquifer which is expected to contribute to Bulawayo’s daily water supply is operating below its capacity amid revelations that half of the boreholes there are not functional.
The aquifer has 56 boreholes that feed into Rochester Reservoir, which eventually pumps into the city’s main supplies, however it has since emerged just 23 are currently operational with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority saying they are working on a programme to rehabilitate them.
In an interview on the sidelines of a tour of the Rochester reservoir and the new Epping Forest project, Zinwa-Gwayi catchment area manager Engineer Chengeto Gozo said they had 23 functional boreholes at the aquifer but it was their wish that they reach 100 percent capacity.
“We have a total of 56 boreholes within the aquifer but unfortunately just 23 are functional, meaning we are operating at 50 percent capacity, which by all means is worrying and should be urgently addressed.
“The only hindering factor for us to reach the 100 percent capacity is the usual financial resources, we are therefore in the process of seeking funds and coming up with a strategy that will see us repairing all the boreholes which are not functional,” said Eng Gozo.
He revealed that with the Epping Forest project nearing completion their next challenge was to ensure that the aquifer boreholes are rehabilitated so as to reach the target of 26 megalitres water supply into the city’s supply chain.
“For now we are working at rehabilitating one borehole per month, which by all means is a slow pace as it means the rehabilitation project would be through after 23 months, which is close to two years.
“However, we will not just sit back and work on the one borehole per month but we will continue looking for funds to a scenario where we will be rehabilitating at least two to three boreholes a month, which will see us reach 100 percent capacity faster,” said Eng Gozo.
The Epping Forest project is meant to augment water pumped from Nyamandlovu as the boreholes in Epping Forest are expected to yield much higher outputs since the aquifer is much thicker as you head towards the site.
BCC funded the project at a cost of over $5,1 million with residents contributing $1 a month towards the project.
Meanwhile Zinwa and the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) are engaged in talks on the amount the local authority will pay for the Epping Forest water upon completion, with Zinwa revealing that they will be an initial write off for the BCC to recover what they used in the completion of the project.
Eng Goko said they appreciated the helping hand they had received from council in completing the project hence they were going to work on a scheme to reimburse the local authority the money they had put towards the project.
“What we have agreed on is that since this is a Zinwa project but we got funding from the local authority at a tune of over $5,1 million. We have so far sent in a proposal to the local authority on what we intend to charge them for the water they harness from the project, if they agree we will then calculate how much was to be written off and when the local authority would start actually paying Zinwa for the water,” said Eng Gozo.
To date the Epping Forest project is almost 100 percent complete with the only major outstanding work being the drilling of boreholes and rehabilitating some that had already been in place, with the contractor envisaging that the project would be complete within six months.