Harare risks running out of potable water

HARARE - Harare risks running out of drinking water if it fails to find a lasting solution to perennial water shortages, a government official has warned.

Killian Mpingo, secretary for Local Government yesterday told a parliamentary portfolio committee overseeing operations of his ministry that a lasting solution to never-ending water challenges should be found as soon as possible to avert a crippling crisis.

Harare City Council has said it is producing a meagre 500 mega litres per-day against a daily demand of 1 200 mega litres.

Mpingo said current water sources were unable to meet the growing demand and new sources should be availed as a matter of urgency.

“I think the lasting solution is developing new water sources as it has become evident that the prevailing situation is not well. We will one day wake up to find the entire Harare dry and it will be disastrous,” Mpingo warned.

Tendai Mahachi, the Harare town clerk who was accompanying Mpingo, said in the past weeks, the local authority was pumping less than 200 mega litres due to mechanical faults at the main pump station, coupled by outdated pipes that are constantly breaking down.

“Our water sources are not sufficient. We are also losing a lot of water through leakages caused by old equipment,” Mahachi said. “We are losing about 60 percent of treated water through that and as council we are trying to replace these old pipes to curb this problem.”

The parliamentary committee, chaired by Lynnette Karenyi, summoned Mpingo and Mahachi so that it could ascertain whether Harare residents are safe from water borne diseases due to water shortages.

Mahachi told the committee, whose membership also includes former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri that his council was “working flat out to ensure that every household in the capital gets water.

“We have a problem with other local authorities that get water from Harare, they owe us quite a huge amount, and so is government. This is affecting our water distribution,” Mahachi stated.

In a bid to improve the water situation in the capital which has over 500 000 households, Mahachi said council will soon introduce smart meters so that those who are defaulting in their bills are blocked from receiving the precious liquid.

Mahachi said the project, which now awaits council approval before being taken to Cabinet, requires $2 million. - Xolisani Ncube

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