Contaminated boreholes to be decommissioned

HARARE - Harare boreholes confirmed to be contaminated will be decommissioned, council spokesperson Michael Chideme has said.

This comes on the back of a typhoid outbreak — believed to have been caused by contaminated borehole water — in Mbare, which has so far claimed two lives.

In relation to that, Health minister, David Parirenyatwa — who has said over 20 of the 33 assessed boreholes in Mbare were contaminated — claimed that 95 percent of the underground water sources in most high density areas were polluted.

Chideme told the Daily News yesterday that people must first test underground water before drilling boreholes or consuming it.

“Residents...can go to reputable laboratories and have the water tested before they start consuming it to avoid waterborne diseases,” he said.

Chideme said drilling boreholes was not the solution as it reduces the number of people consuming municipal water.

However, the decommissioning exercise is set to worsen Harare’s water crisis because most residents were now relying on borehole water, as council has been failing to supply the precious commodity.

The Harare City Council spokesperson said the long-term solution was improving on water supply so that council pumps treated water to homes.

He added that while people were resorting to bottled water, it could also be contaminated as it was mostly being sourced from boreholes.

Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) corporate communications manager, Marjorie Manyonga, said while people turned to boreholes during the drought, the water quality was not always safe.

She said it was mandatory for consumers to seek authority for borehole drilling in order to ensure transparency on water allocation and use and also to minimise uncontrolled groundwater abstraction.

“The quality of water from some of these boreholes is also questionable since no proper assessment was carried prior to drilling.

“The cardinal rules that boreholes should be drilled away from potential sources of pollution and that borehole water should be tested at prescribed intervals has totally been ignored.”

“Consumers are reminded that while it is within their rights to pursue borehole drilling as a way of alleviating water shortages, they must follow the legal framework provided in Statutory Instrument 206 of 2001 where a standard format for groundwater development covering borehole sitting, borehole drilling and construction, pumping test and equipping is outlined,” Manyonga said.

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