Harare residents should expect the ongoing water shortages to persist as the council continues to struggle to meet the demand and most suburbs receiving water for a few days every week, sparking concern that this could be fuelling the cholera outbreak.
The areas that have been hard hit by cholera are Kuwadzana, Glen View, Budiriro and Highfield are among those that have also suffered from perennial water shortages, along with most of the east and north of the city where water once a week is the most that residents receive.
Harare City spokesperson Mr Stanley Gama said the local authority continued to face challenges in securing water treatment chemicals hence the reduced water supply.
“The water demand is very high considering that we also supply Norton, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Epworth and these are different councils but we have to supply them. What we do is we distribute what we have for example during weekends we don’t have water in the central business district so we will be distributing it in places like Mabvuku and other areas.
“We try as far as possible to distribute water as fairly as possible to everyone. We plan to have water for everyone at least once or twice a week and we notify people almost every day of our water timetable.”
He said the Morton Jaffery water treatment plant was operating at half its capacity owing to machine breakdowns and a shortage of chemicals. Harare City has said it needs US$1,8 million every month for chemicals.
“Our capacity in Morton Jeffrey is 700 megalitres a day but we are doing half of that because of a series of problems including machines break down and also a shortage of chemicals. Harare needs at least 1400 megalitres a day and that can only be achieved once the Kunzvi dam is completed. The city council uses about US$1.8 million for chemicals per month and we are pleading with the residents and companies to pay the money which they owe us so that we can source enough chemicals,” he said.
Mr Gama said the building of new dams would bring relief to the current water challenges.
“Lake Chivero was built in 1952 to cater for 200,000 people. The waterworks were put in place around 1954 for that population. The population has since grown up to around three to four million including visitors who come in every day. What it means is that we need a new water source to supply Harare.
“Besides Lake Chivero is a small water source for Harare. It is contaminated by sewage, so we need more chemicals to treat the water,” he added.
The Government has put in place measures to address the water issues and this has been done through the Presidential borehole drilling scheme and the setting up of a technical team to solve the city’s water woes. The team is expected to put in place measures to increase production to about 520ML per day, reduce non-revenue water and ensure improved potable water supply coverage.