Harare faces water crisis

Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Harare is facing a serious water crisis as the city’s major water sources are drying up, with council now making provisions for the situation to be declared a state of emergency so that urgent steps may be taken to address the disaster. Lake Chivero, Harare’s main water sources which should be spilling around this time of the year, is only around 60 percent full while two other dams which augment water supplies — Harava and Seke — are 7 percent and 6,3 percent full, respectively.

Harare has been forced to decommission Prince Edward Waterworks because it can no longer draw water from Seke and Harava dams which usually contribute 70 megalitres of water a day of which 30 megalitres were dedicated to Chitungwiza and the remaining 40 megalitres supplied Mbare, Sunningdale and surrounding areas.

Morton Jaffray Treatment Works, which has a capacity of 604 megalitres a day is only pumping 350 to 380 megalitres a day against a requirement of about 1 200 megalitres a day.

Harare has since banned the use of hosepipes and is set to upscale water rationing in order to conserve water.

The situation is also exacerbated by the shortage of water treatment chemicals which is being faced by council.

The erratic water supply is indicative of a backlog in infrastructure provision for the whole city and the need to speed up the Kunzvi-Musami Dam for it to be incorporated into Harare’s water supply system.

In an interview during the tour of Seke and Harava dams, Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango said there was virtually no water in the two dams and any attempts to draw the remaining sandy water would damage the city’s treatment infrastructure.

“When we get to a situation like where we are right now where our dams are drying up. We are getting into a state of emergency so we have to be prepared as a city and also as a nation to survive in that mode. So what we will do is to get necessary resolutions from council and Government to make sure as a state of emergency is declared,” he said.

“That will enable us to mobilise resources to deal with the current situation. We will need bowsers for emergency. We also need to sink deeper boreholes and look for additional water sources.”

Eng Chisango said because of the poor rainy season the country experienced, the water sources were drying up quickly.

“We are now moving into the water rationing mode. We have to use some stricter measures in terms of water supply. This means that people have to reduce the amount of water that they are using and the city will also reduce the amount of water that we are pumping,” he said.

Eng Chisango said the city has to rely on Morton Jaffray and this will affect the preliminary water rationing timetable.

He said there also have been challenges in terms of water treatment chemicals as the local supplier of the major chemical aluminium sulphate delayed in delivering the chemical but another supplier had chipped in to close the gap.

Water manager Eng Tapiwa Kunyadini said the city is set to put stringent measures and upscale water rationing.

“We actually have to put more stringent measures, water rationing system. As you can see, at the moment we are going into a drier season. So far we have banned the use of hosepipes and we will reduce the number of days that areas get water,” he said.

“We will be prioritising our key institutions such as hospitals and other strategic areas while reducing the number of days people will be getting water.”

Health services director Dr Prosper Chonzi said it was unfortunate that the city was facing such a crisis which may lead to the rise of water borne-diseases.

“In a situation like this, people will resort to fetching water from unsafe sources such as shallow wells, streams and poorly constructed boreholes. The advice is that those sources of water are not safe people should treat the water they get from such sources before using it for domestic consumption,” he said.

He said people can boil the water or use aqua tablets.