Gweru running dry
… five months’ water supplies left
GWERU — Council has warned residents to brace themselves for stringent water rationing because water levels at the city’s main water source, Gwenoro Dam, have dwindled to 39 percent.
The dam, which supplies Gweru and the satellite town of Shurugwi, has a capacity of just under 22 000 megalitres (ML) and is now left with enough water to last until October this year.
The situation has left the city fathers with no option but to commission the city’s two other supply dams — Amapongokwe (5 000 ML) and Whitewaters (2 000ML) — to help improve water supply.
However, the two dams are also below 50 percent capacity.
The water rationing regime is likely to hit hard residents of the Midlands provincial capital who have already endured erratic water supplies over the years as the local authority battles to meet demand.
As residents resort to fetching water from unprotected water sources for their household chores, fears of an outbreak of waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera have heightened.
Acting town clerk, Edgar Mwedzi blamed the deteriorating water supply situation on the erratic rainfall patterns experienced during the just ended rainfall season.
“The situation is out of our control because it has to do with the poor rainy season which we experienced and … we have to ration water so that it takes us to the next rainy season when it begins in October. We will soon be commissioning Amapongokwe and Whitewaters to augment water supplies to the city and, at this point, we appeal to residents to use water sparingly,” Mwedzi said.
The water situation has been exacerbated by the theft of a water pump which went missing during servicing at a local firm. Mwedzi said there would ask the company to pay for the pump.
Mwedzi said the water shortages being experienced in Gweru require a collective effort between council and residents to preserve the precious liquid.
“In view of the deteriorating water levels in Gwenhoro Dam due to the dire effects of El Nino weather phenomenon that has seen the country receiving below normal rainfall, there shall be reduced water supply throughout the city,” said Mwedzi.
Meanwhile, residents have threatened to engage in street protests over a month-long water shortage crippling the city.
The Tsunga Mhangami-led commission, running the affairs of the city, seems clueless on how to save the situation.
The residents believe that the commission was failing to fix bursting old pipes at the pump stations which has resulted in the water shortages.
Last month, the city instituted a water audit to account for 75 percent of water, which has not translated into revenue, but the audit has not saved the water situation. Matters have, in fact, worsened by the day, exposing residents to diseases.
Speaking to the Financial Gazette, Gweru Residents and Rate Payers Association chairperson, Cornelius Selipiwe, said the only way to force action is through demonstrations.
“The whole of Gweru is gearing up for a demonstration over the worsening water situation. We have been talking to residents and they are ready to let their voice be heard,” Selipiwe said.
He said engaging the commission had been fruitless.
“We will keep on engaging them, but if the worst comes to the worst we will demonstrate,” said Selipiwe, blasting the commission, which is in the process of taking residents to debt collectors, for a service which is not being delivered. He also rubbished the water audit as a useless endeavour.
“What the commission is doing is irrational…There is no water yet they are busy taking residents to debt collectors.
“The money they used for the water audit should have been used for the pumps so that there is improved water supply,” he fumed.
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