Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has raised concern over the discharge of at least 366 mega litres of sewage into the environment.

The agency said sewer treatment infrastructure in most towns is being overwhelmed by increased waste generation.

EMA’s manager responsible for Education and Environment, Ms Amkela Sidange yesterday said that they had conducted an assessment of most local authorities’ sewage plants to ascertain the state of

affairs.

“An assessment conducted by the Environmental Management Agency revealed that an estimated 366 mega litres of raw and partially treated sewage is being discharged daily into the environment particularly from urban local authorities. Out of the identified 70 Sewage treatment plants in the 32 urban local authorities with a combined design capacity to receive and fully treat 579,38 mega litres per day, 21 percent are currently down and non-operational,” she said.

“Additionally, ambient water quality monitoring results show high phosphate levels in rivers passing through the main cities and towns and this is largely contributed to non-functional sewage treatment facilities.

To that end, water contamination and pollution remains a major challenge in the country as more water bodies are reduced to dead streams and lakes with associated huge rehabilitation costs; exposing

communities to recurring diseases.”

Ms Sidange said the pollution impacts on the provision of quality water, especially in urban areas as well as crop and livestock production.

She said communities are being denied access to clean and safe water as required in terms of the constitution of Zimbabwe

Ms Sidange said EMA was on the ground enforcing compliance within local authorities.

“We recently took Norton and Kadoma town council to court on charges of polluting the environment, where Norton was fined $25 000 for two offences and was among other things ordered to rehabilitate, repair and upgrade their water and sewer treatment plants and pipes to EMA’s satisfaction within three months,” she said.

“Currently there are four cases before the High Court and about six more local authorities to be taken to court for the same offences of polluting the environment.”

She said they were also concerned about urban wetlands degradation mostly due to infrastructural development.

Ms Sidange said they had since fined Chitungwiza town council $24 000 for issuing commercial stands in a wetland without a wetland utilisation permit.

In addition, she said the local authority was ordered to stop all construction and failure to do so will result in the opening of a docket.

“To date over 200 development projects in urban areas, mostly housing developments, have been rejected by the Agency on site suitability, as development was proposed on wetland areas,” she said.

“We encourage local authorities to desist from allocating land on wetland areas and appreciate that land is a finite resource and should not thus attempt to find extra land by parceling out wetland areas for

development purposes.”

@tupeyo