Harare water raises ire

Lisa Mandewo
Harare City Council is the major polluter of the capital’s main water sources and ironically spends huge sums of taxpayer money on treatment chemicals.

Council is distributing frothy, smelly and coloured water due to limited funds to purchase treatment chemicals.

Although the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has released US$6 million for chemical purchase, there is a growing feeling among residents that Town House should be held accountable for polluting water.

The first consignment of the chemicals is expected in a fortnight.

Last week, Environmental Management Agency spokesperson Mr Steady Kangata told The Sunday Mail that apart from council, industries are dumping dangerous chemicals in water bodies.

“We have done several studies and have found out that Harare City Council, together with companies, are the major polluters of water bodies. Burst sewer pipes are left unattended for a long time in most suburbs and raw sewage ends up in water bodies.

“In addition, there are leaking sewer pipes near water, which are not being replaced; resulting in raw sewage flowing into water bodies. There are some industries that are also discharging chemicals in water bodies.”

Council’s corporate communications manager, Mr Michael Chideme, said chemicals acquired through the RBZ will help normalise the situation.

“All our suppliers have been fully paid for and now we are awaiting deliveries. Some of the chemicals were imported from as far as China and it takes up to 45 days for the consignments to arrive here.

“We only learnt recently about other places which do not have clear and clean water such as Kuwadzana and Warren Park, but we are going to fix that problem.”

Urban planning expert Mr Percy Toriro said, “The problem of water pollution in the city of Harare is a geographical and behavioural problem. Geographically, Harare sits on its catchment, meaning that the source of its water supply rivers is where the city is located.

“The implication of this situation is that the quality of raw water is affected by the behaviour of residents; any sewerage bursts, industrial pollution or whatever is deposited in the city drains end up in water supply dams.

“The easiest and cheapest solution is to raise awareness and monitor pollution in Harare.

‘‘There are a few biological methods being used in similar situations elsewhere, but what is easily within our control is preventing pollution so that the quality of Harare raw water is not bad.”

In 2015, the city audit committee highlighted that Harare City Council was failing to implement proper industrial chemical waste management.

Harare recycles treated waste water back into its supply dam, Lake Chivero, with the local authority using nine chemicals to treat the water at a cost of US$3 million every month.

In December last year, Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said Harare water was “chemically safe to drink.

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