Council frets over water consumption levels

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has warned that it might be forced to reintroduce stringent water conservation methods if water consumption levels continue to increase.

The local authority says residents are currently consuming 170 mega litres a day instead of the required 130 mega litres.

Recently, council suspended its 48-hour water shedding programme owing to the normalisation of the water supply distribution system following major rehabilitation works at Criterion Water Works.

Failure to keep up with the desired level, BCC director of engineering services, Engineer Simela Dube, said the council might have to reintroduce water rationing so that the available supplies can last until the end of year.

“We are currently instituting water rationing where we are saying our target should be in the region of 130 mega litres to 135 mega litres per day. We will obviously review this, as we said our Mzingwane Dam is likely to run out in October or November and for us to stretch to another four weeks we might have to tighten rationing and push ourselves into December without having to implement very strict water shedding programmes,” he said.

The city’s engineer said this on the sidelines of a tour of the Bulawayo and Sewerage Services Improvement Projects (BWSSIP) aimed at improving municipal water supply and sanitation services.

The BWSSIP is funded by the African Development Bank (AFDB) through the government at a cost of US$37 million and the project covers four major projects: Criterion Water Works, the sewerage treatment works at the Southern Areas Sewage Treatment works (SAST), water mains upgrading and the Cowdray Park project where critical hotspots in the sewerage and outfall sewers are to be extended.

Water mains renewal upgrading projects will include rehabilitation of the 23 km main water pump, 2km of main upgrading and replace 18 000 non-functional water meters.

Stakeholders were invited to the water works so they could appreciate the city’s water challenges and also lure potential funders who are willing to partner the city to improve its water and sanitation programmes.

“We need our stakeholders to be part of us in this programme and we have talked about water conservation to continue supplying water,” Dube said.

BCC is the first site in the country to be given implementing agent status meaning the city can oversee its own procurement, adjudication of tenders and awards.

So far none of the contracts awarded have come under dispute, claimed the city’s engineer.

Under this project, the city also looks forward to using recycled and treated sewerage water as part of measures to conserve water, possibly with aim to increase quality water consumption to 180 ml per day.

“This is why two of the projects look at SAST and critical hotspots in the sewerage networks. The idea behind SAST and dealing with hotspots is for the sewer to reach the treatment works and once it is at the treatment works, sewer can be treated to a quality that can be discharged to the river system, which is why there is the combination of the sewerage hotspots and outfall sewers,” Dube explained.

He said what was discharged to the sewerage treatment works was basically domestic effluent which could be treated for reuse.

Dube stressed that the initial phase of the recycled water would be for industrial use.

“As a city have said the initial phase of reuse is that we treat the water through our Khami treatment works for industrial use. The Zimbabwe Power Company has already pledged to work with the city on upgrading the water treatment works and the pipeline from Khami to the power station or at Lobengula Street,” he said.

Recycling sewerage would provide an additional 11 mega litres of water per day to Bulawayo.

“If the power station is commissioned before these treatment works, it means it will consume 11 mega litres of clean water per day, but if we give them 11 mega litres of treated effluent this will actually be improving on our portable water cycle,” noted the city’s engineer.

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