Harare City Council constructs biogas plant

HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC) is building a biomethane plant that will turn human waste into electricity, a city engineer has said.

Construction of the biogas power plant at Firle Sewer Treatment works is already underway and will convert treated sewage of over three million Greater Harare residents into electricity.

During a tour of sewer treatment works, Simon Muserere, the waste water manager, said Harare produced 219 megalitres of waste everyday and 144 megalitres are treated at Firle.

Muserere said Firle pays approximately $300 000 in electricity bills every month but with the refurbishment, they could cut the costs drastically.

“The new plant that is set to begin work next year will see Firle converting methane gas from the waste into electricity,” Muserere said.

“We plan to produce four megawatts from the gas which will be used to run the plant.”

The engineer said the exercise is an incremental project which will be done over a period of time, resources permitting.

He said so far, council had used $18 million of its own resources in the rehabilitation programme at Firle and this amounts to 25 percent of council revenue.

Tendai Mahachi, the town clerk,  said once the rehabilitation is complete, water treatment chemicals would be reduced by 50 percent as the water will be cleaner.

A $19,5 million grant from the African Development Bank will help in the replacement of water pipes, acquiring new water meters and de-sludging sewer ponds.

Michael Chideme, the HCC principal communications officer,  said $12 million of the grant would go towards water pipe replacement as the reticulation pipes were now very old and needed urgent replacing.

He said the programme was set to begin in February 2015 and would take up to 10 months to complete.

“The bulk of Harare’s 5 500km of water pipes were laid over 40 years ago and have naturally gone beyond the permitted lifespan,” he said.

“There have been concerns that the city was not giving priority to pipe replacement given the huge amounts of water lost due to leakages caused by bursts and collapsed pipes.”

Chideme said the replacement exercise will ensure that more water reaches households and will also increase revenue.

With the grant, he said, 140 000 new water meters will be bought, together with pressure-reducing valves.

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