BULAWAYO City Council has admitted that residents could be receiving bacteria infected water, but said this was not life-threatening.
This came after residents last week complained of receiving discoloured water that many mistook for sewerage, sparking fears of another outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.
In June this year, 13 residents succumbed to diarrhoea after drinking contaminated water that left over 2 000 seeking medical treatment.
Council spokesperson Nesisa Mpofu on Friday said council was last week inundated with calls from panicky residents who had received discoloured water from their taps.
“Council responded by collecting water samples and testing the quality of water in the affected section of the suburb,” Mpofu told Southern Eye.
“Test results indicated that water collected from a particular house (address withheld) was contaminated with bacteria, which was, however, not of the worrisome faecal coliform nature.
“The absence of faecal coliforms meant that there was no connection of contamination from the sewerage system.”
According to Mpofu, dry water pipes could also be the reason why some residents were receiving dirty water.
“However, in view of the 144 hours shedding where residents received water in 12-hour intervals twice a week, the city notes that the water pipes may stay for longer periods without water,” Mpofu said.
“This may affect the colour of water that residents may subsequently receive. Efforts are being made to add chlorine at points so as to kill any germs and ensure safe potable water for the community of Bulawayo.
“In instances where residents receive coloured water, we encourage residents to let it run for five minutes, use it for non-consumable uses. Residents are also encouraged to boil water for potable use due to the challenges faced from prolonged system shutdown,” she said.
Some Bulawayo residents have for weeks without running water after the council decommissioned three of its supply dams.
A government consultant, however, concluded recently that the problem was not the low levels at the supply dams, but council’s lack of technical capacity to maximise on the available quantities.