Zim water crisis: A look at state of water supply sources in urban areas

Apart from the drought-induced challenge of unavailability of raw water, urban water supply in most cities is facing additional challenges due to limited conveyance, pumping and treatment capacities, shortage of chemicals as well as power outages, Government has said.

The City of Bulawayo, has mainly been drawing water from three sources, Upper Ncema, Lower Ncema and Mzingwane – until they were very low and decommissioned whilst the biggest dams -Insiza, Inyankuni and Mtshabezi- remain with substantial amounts of water which could last the City up to 11 months at 155 Mega litres (ML) per day.

“It is unfortunate that the City of Bulawayo has made limited investments in improving abstraction capacity which could have assisted in addressing the water challenges,” Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro told Senate on Thursday.

Similarly, the City of Gweru has not been able to abstract water from Amapongokwe Dam for many years due to a pump breakdown at the dam.

“This has limited the City to abstract water from Gwenoro Dam only leading to the declining water levels in the dam currently at 26.5% full,” he added.

Turning to the City of Harare (HCC), the Ministry said, Harare has not been abstracting water from Manyame Dam for the past 10 years due to a broken-down lift pump at Morton Jaffray until December 2019 when the Government of Zimbabwe intervened.

The Ministry which has a mandate to manage water resources for the State and to ensure sustainable development, said it was concerned that high water losses in most of the local authorities is due to leakages from old distribution systems.

The losses range between 40% to 60% for most authorities and we would implore respective local authorities to address this issue urgently.

Elsewhere, Gweru water sources are currently at 33% full and can supply the City for approximately 9 months.

“There is a need for the local authority to manage demand, improve pumping from Amapongokwe Dam and restrict water supply to 45ML per day,” Karoro said.

As for the medium to long term strategy, the Gwenoro Dam wall has to be raised by 9 metres and a new water source at Lubongo Dam should be constructed to meet the growing demand.

Karoi has five months supply left from its combined water from its two supply dams, Blockey and Karoi dams that are at 25% full.

“There is a need for water demand management by the local authority and for Blockley Dam to be raised, in the medium term,” Karoro continued.

With the current level of 41% full in Shurugwi Dam, Shurugwi has eight months supply left.

Strategies include managing demand, abstracting from disused mine shafts and, in the long-term to abstract water from proposed Lubongo Dam.

With water levels at 20% full from Chesa Dam, Mt Darwin has only one and half months supply left. In the short term the centre can draw water from Ruya River as releases can be made from upstream dams such as Lilistock.

“However, the Chesa dam is very small and cannot last the centre for six months, even if it fills during the rainfall season, hence an additional raw water source is required urgently,” Karoro added.

Meanwhile, Gwayi-Shangani Dam has received a disbursement of ZWL 550 million from Government and the target is to complete the dam by December 2021.

The move is aimed at providing a lasting solution to the water supply challenges to Bulawayo and the region.

The water situation in other urban areas

Kwekwe – with a combined 25% full from the supply dams has seven months supply left at 31mega litres per day, even though there is enough supply to next run off season.  Greenham Dam needs to be constructed in the medium terms.

Chegutu – Chegutu Town with a combined 50% full of supply dams has 12 months supply left at 23 mega litres per day which is enough supply to next run off season.

Gwanda – with a combined 62% full of supply dams has 11 months supply left at 20 mega litres per day and getting water supply augmentation from Mtshabezi Dam.  The completion of Tuli-Manyange Dam will improve the water security for Gwanda.

Plumtree has 12 months supply left at 13 mega litres per day from its source which is at 34% as is enough to next run off season.  However, additional sources need to be developed in the long term.

Chivhu – it has 11 months of supply at 9 mega litres a day left from Chikomba dam which is 53% full in supply dams, which is enough supply to next run off season.  Furthermore, Chivhu Dam is expected to be completed by December 2021 to enhance water security for the town.

Chipinge’s water source, Bangazaan Dam is at 98% full and will last the centre for the next 13 months at 8 mega litres per day.

Mutoko’s Nyadire Dam at 53% full has 6 months supply left at 4 mega litres per day.  However, there is need to monitor demand. In the long term, a new water source is required.

Murehwa water source is currently at 85% full and can supply the centre for at least 17 months at 4 mega litres per day.

Mvurwi’s Pembi Dam is at 58% full and has 7 months supply left at 5, 5 mega litres per day.  However, there is significant base flow which is currently flowing into the dam from the perennial river feeding the dam. More water is also available from the nearby Eastwards Dam which can be easily constructed and functional in two months.

Rushinga with 50% full in supply dams has 17 months supply left at 3 mega litres which is enough to supply to next run off season.

Insukamini within 21% full in supply dams has five months supply left at 4 mega litres per day.

Centres with relatively safe water supply

Greater Harare source are left with 18 months of water supply at 800 mega litres per day. 

“There is a need for rehabilitation of distribution network to minimize losses which are up to 60%.  There is also a need to improve management of effluent discharges into the water sources estimated at 145 mega litres per day,” Karoro said on Thursday.

Construction of Kunzvi and Musami Dam by 2022 and 2025 respectively is required to augment water to the city by 600 mega litres per day.

Mutare City has 14 months at 97 mega litres per day of water supply left from the Odzani Dams which is being augmented through pumping from the Pungwe River.  Osborne Dam can also supply the city if a treatment plant is constructed.  The existing sources are adequate up to 2030.

Kadoma has 27 months left, there is need to monitor demand on annual basis.  However, the existing resources are adequate up to 2030.

Beitbridge – although Beitbridge has 3 plus months left, the town has a huge water supply back up from Zhovhe Dam which is at 58,8% full.

Marondera is more than 30 months left at 13 mega litres per day of raw water supplies.  The sources are enough to supply to the city up to 2030.

Rusape town has more than 30 months left at 9 mega litres per day.  There is need to maintain adequate reserves for the town when releasing water for irrigation from Rusape Dam.

Bindura, Shamva and Glendale – they have 12 months left from their sources.  Mwenje and Acadia augmented by Masembura Dam which is at 60% full.  The Bindura Dam is also under construction and is expected to be completed by 2021.

Masvingo and Chiredzi –  these have more than 30 months left at 30 mega litres per day though there is a need to maintain adequate reserves for the town when releasing water for irrigation from Lake Mutirikwi.  The construction of the Tugwi-Mukosi Dam has lessened the burdern on Lake Mutirikwi for water releases to the low veld.  This has allowed storage in Mutirikwi to be mainly reserved for Masvingo Town.

Concession, Sadza, Wedza, Buhera, Murambinda, Inyati Mine, Inyati Center, Bikita, Nyika, Zvishavane, Mberengwa, Mashava and Zaka have more than 30 months left of raw water supply from their sources. 

There is a need to maintain adequate reserves for the rural service centres when releasing water for irrigation.

Gutu and Mpandawana Growth Centre currently has 23 months left at two mega litres per day from their sources.