BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) is on Monday set to start easing the gruelling water shedding programme to about 72 hours in the next two weeks while making a roadmap towards normalising water supplies to the city. At the moment most suburbs get tap water once a week.
The city has been under an ever-tightening water shedding exercise since 2019 following successive poor rainfalls. By the end of March, the council aims to have totally lifted shedding.
The local authority started with a 48-hour water shedding programme which has increased to a provisional water supply restoration schedule where most suburbs were getting running water once a week.
The provisional water supply restoration schedule has seen some residents living in high lying areas going for almost 12 months without running water. Since the start of the rainy season, Bulawayo dams have received 30 percent inflows with aggregate dam levels rising to 53 percent.
In a statement yesterday, Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni said council has started implementing a water restoration programme which will ultimately result in the suspension of water shedding.
“Council today, 5 February 2021, met and resolved for the progressive rolling out of the water restoration strategy against the available raw water and available pumping capacities so as to slowly introduce a programmable water shedding regime which will be gradually suspended towards mid-March 2021,” said Cllr Mguni.
He said lifting of the water shedding programme will be partly influenced by the installation of new pumps at two pump stations.
“It will be recalled that in the year 2020, the City of Bulawayo installed new Flowserve pumps to replace the obsolete KSB Pumps at both Fernhill and Ncema Pump Stations. The pumps were initially earmarked for technical commissioning in December 2020, but due to challenges faced with the failure of the Non-Return Valves, the commissioning was rescheduled for January 2021.
“Council would like to advise that the progressive recommissioning of the Flowserve pumps is being done from the 25th of January 2021 with the final snags expected to be completed by March 2021,” he said.
“The additional pumping through the Flowserve pumps is expected to increase the treatment capacity from the current 92ML/ day to 145 ML/ day. This will assist in building the raw water reservoir and ensure its gradual restoration to the water supply system. The City had thus proposed a formal 144-hour water shedding programme which will be gradually normalised to ensure water is provided twice a week.”
He said in the next two weeks the council expects to have stabilised its reservoirs to implement a 72-hour weekly water shedding programme. “This delivery capacity will remain the same up to the 16th of March 2021 when the second set of the Flowserve pumps are introduced and become operational,” he said.
Cllr Mguni said mid-March council will start implementing a 48-hour weekly water shedding exercise, which should lead to the suspension of the whole programme.
“The 48-hour shedding programme will be suspended by end of March making way for a fully charged system to supply water to the city 24 hours per day. This is dependent on the consumer adhering to the water rationing limits,” said Cllr Mguni.
In 2019, council increased water rationing in the high-density areas saying they should use 450 litres per day and 13,5 kilolitres per month while in the low-density suburbs, inclusive of cottages and servants’ quarters, the limit is 650 litres per day and 19,5 kilolitres per month.
The council had said residential flats with individual meters should use not more than 400 litres per day. Cllr Mguni said council is also aware that the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has completed the Epping Forest project which is now delivering an additional 10 megalitres (ML) of water to the city daily.
“The City of Bulawayo also notes the following immediate actions to ensure continuous water supply; implementation of the Inyankuni Booster Station increasing output from 18ML/day to 41ML/day at a cost of USD$0,4 million and increasing of Mtshabezi abstraction from 15ML/day to 36ML/day at a cost of USD$2.3 million,” said the mayor.
The projects are being done by Zinwa after Treasury last year released $205 million for Bulawayo water augmentation scheme to address the city’s water crisis.