THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has assured residents over the safety of its foul-smelling water after being inundated with complaints from panicky residents fearing for their health.

There have been complaints over the smell of the water that the local authority has been pumping into ratepayers’ homes at a time when council is implementing a 48-hour water-shedding programme.

BCC health services director Edwin Sibanda confirmed the developments, but said the water did not pose a health hazard.

“Of late, there has been concern about an odour within the water system but as health services department, we monitor the water quality specifically for the bacterial content that is likely to be associated with diseases as well as the residual chlorine.

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“So far, our water is safe. We admit that there could be an odour or two, but this is not a threat to human life,” Sibanda said.

This comes after the council embarked on major refurbishment works at its Criterion Water Works and reservoirs to improve water quality.

In July, council was forced to switch off water supplies for more than a week to facilitate the rehabilitation of the Criterion Water Works under a Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (BWSSIP) funded by the African Development Bank.

“When we monitor water for potability, that is suitability for human consumption, what we are mainly concerned with is the chlorine and the bacterial content.
The other parameters would have been cleared at Criterion laboratory as well as other laboratories outside,” Sibanda added.

“We have 100 sampling points within the city and samples are taken twice a month. Since 2011, we have collected lots of samples and less than 4% of those samples have proven to be unsatisfactory. Those unsatisfactory points are re-sampled within a very short time to prove that whatever unsatisfactory state is not persistent and we notify the engineering department to actually rectify the challenge.”

The council has already decommissioned two of its six water supply dams Umzingwane and Upper Ncema over dwindling water levels.

Over the weekend, council warned it would be forced to decommission another dam in the next three weeks if no significant rains were received soon.