Bulawayo Could Face Water Challenges As Rain Season Gives City 50 Day Supply

BULAWAYO’s water supply dams received just 5 778 565 cubic metres of water during the 2018/2019 rainy season, an amount that is enough to last an average of 50 days, putting fears that the city, already experiencing water shedding, will face serious water shortages this year.

This comes as the Meteorological Department has indicated that the rainy season is now officially over. Bulawayo consumes an average of between 116 078 cubic metres and 135 394 cubic metres a day of water. According to the latest dam statistics, the city’s dams stand at 54,38 percent full with one of the dams, Upper Ncema, likely to be decommissioned in the next few days as it stands at eight percent full.

In terms of inflows since the start of the rainy season, the city’s dams got 5 778 565 cubic metres of the 225 491 811 cubic metres which are in the dams, this translating to just 2,6 percent of the total figure. At 2 413 328 cubic metres, Insiza Mayfair got the bulk of the inflows followed by Lower Ncema which got 1 296 110 cubic metres while Upper Ncema at 415 200 cubic metres got the least inflows. 135 394.

In most cases a dam is decommissioned after it reaches 10 percent of its capacity to allow the water to sustain its underwater life. The statistics also showed that Mtshabezi which has a capacity of
51 996 000 cubic metres still has the highest levels at 83,12 percent full, a figure which reduced from 87,7 percent last month, Inyankuni, which has a carrying capacity of 80 781 000 cubic metres is 63,74 percent full a drop from 64,43 percent last month and Insiza Mayfair, with a carrying capacity of 173 491 000 cubic metres is 58,92 percent full a drop from 61,56 percent last month.

Lower Ncema which has a carrying capacity of 18 237 700 cubic metres has actually increased levels as it is pegged at 81,18 percent up from 66,69 percent last month, Umzingwane with a carrying capacity of 44 663 500 cubic metres has dropped to 22,66 percent from 28,04 percent last month while Upper Ncema which has a carrying capacity of 45 458 500 cubic metres has dropped to eight percent from 18,52 percent last month.

Pumping from Mtshabezi Dam- according to the statistics — still remains erratic with the local authority failing to get water from the dam the whole of last week. In an interview with Sunday News yesterday, Meteorological Services Department duty forecaster, Mr Batisayi Haanyadzise said while the rainy season was over the region could still get slight but not significant rainfall as the seasons move from summer to winter.

“It usually takes time for seasons to transition to the next season due to the atmospheric conditions, take for example when the rainy season came to an end there was too much moisture in the atmosphere which is why we recently experienced some isolated showers. In the case of Bulawayo, it falls under the Southern region and during winter they experience drizzle conditions and in some cases thunderstorms but this still won’t trigger the inflows as high as we want but still the dams might get some inflows mainly due to the moisture coming from the Indian Ocean,” said Mr Haanyadzise.

The city is already enduring a 48-hour water shedding schedule but with the latest dam statistics supplied by the Bulawayo City Council, it seems highly likely that the schedule will soon be increased. The city faces perennial water shortages with city fathers identifying the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project as the long term solution to the city’s problems.

Other projects identified include the Epping Forest boreholes project that will increase the water being pumped from the Nyamandlovu Aquifer and the duplication of the Insiza pipeline to complement the current pipeline and increase water being pumped from Insiza Mayfair. Bulawayo is also said to be operating with a deficit of four dams as an additional supply dam is supposed to be constructed after every 10 years.

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