'Borehole water not safe'

HARARE – Harare residents have been warned against drinking borehole water as it is heavily contaminated.

Council spokesperson Michael Chideme said tests done by the city in the high density suburbs of Glen Norah and Budiriro showed that boreholes in the area had water unfit for consumption.

“We are urging these residents not to get water from shallow wells as they are contaminated by bacteria. Our routine surveillance tests in the areas have proven so and that water is not fit for human consumption. We therefore urge them to use municipal water as they are on 24/7 water supply,” Chideme said.

The municipality recently decommissioned two boreholes in Mbare and Kuwadzana 3 after they tested positive for E coli, a bacteria that causes typhoid.

Harare Water director Hosea Chisango said the city’s piped water was safe to drink compared to that drawn from shallow wells and boreholes.

“Municipal water is actually the safest compared to borehole water because it is treated and tested every day. E coli — the bacteria that causes typhoid — is what is not acceptable because that will be faecal contamination of water,” he said.

“Researchers from universities and laboratories are free to test our water and challenge us to meet the specifications of the WHO water quality parameters. The city laboratories and even those from government frequently get water samples to check whether there is contamination or not,” he added.

Chisango said before the foreign currency shortages, council would have 90 days stocks of chemicals but now suppliers provide them daily as per availability and orders.

“We have stocks of all seven of the chemicals that are used in the purification process. The issue is that even if we did not have sulphuric acid to treat the water, we would increase the dosage of other chemicals to counter the absence of another,” said Chisango.

“There are, however, other chemicals like chlorine gas and aluminium sulphate, which kill bugs which should not be out of stock at Morton Jaffray. If that happens we stop production completely because then we will be making residents drink raw water which is illegal,” he said.

He said some of the unpleasant green and black colours of the water were caused by a household’s internal reticulation problem, which was solved by letting the water run to clean the pipes.