Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
Bulawayo residents should not drink borehole water without boiling it as it is susceptible to contamination from burst sewers and soil bacteria.
Most Bulawayo residents now depend on borehole water as the council implements a 144-hour weekly water shedding exercise while high lying suburbs have gone for more than six months without running water.
Bursts pipes, among other technical challenges, have resulted in council failing to adhere to the scheduled water shedding programme.
The water crisis has triggered a typhoid and dysentery outbreak in Luveve and surrounding areas killing 13 and infecting close to 2 000 residents.
The disease outbreak resulted in council introducing a waiver on clinic user fees for the duration of the water shedding programme, after residents in Luveve delayed seeking medical treatment due to what they termed high costs charged at medical centres.
In the latest council report, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) director of engineering services Engineer Simela Dube discouraged residents from drinking borehole water while observing that the city’s crisis was worsening.
He said under the scheduled water shedding exercise, council raw water pumping capacity has dropped from 114 megalitres (ML) to 88ML.
The council recently warned that with summer approaching, water usage would increase against dwindling water levels, hence worsening the already dire situation.
Eng Dube said council cannot guarantee that borehole water was safe for drinking.
“The Director of Engineering Services reported (1st July, 2020) that the quality of the water at most of the boreholes was good. A few boreholes had a high degree of saltiness.
“Borehole water was naturally salty because it was drawn from deep-down the ground and the degree of saltiness would depend on the nature of rocks in the water table from which it was drawn,” said Eng Dube.
“Bacteriological quality of borehole water cannot be guaranteed since the water was untreated and subject to contamination at any time from environmental factors like sewer overflows and bacteriological contaminated soil. Residents were therefore advised to boil borehole water before drinking.”
He said demand for bowser supplied water has also increased as more high lying areas continue to be without water beyond the scheduled water shedding periods.
Council is in the process of erecting 25 water kiosks in 14 suburbs worst affected by the water crisis to improve supplies.
Eng Dube said the council will continue to provide water at funeral gatherings and other areas desperately in need of water.
He said council continues to lobby the Government to provide funds for the completion of the Epping Forest aquifer project to improve supplies in the city.
The council wants to recycle Khami Dam water as part of it’s medium-term solution to the persistent water crisis and had called on residents to support the initiative. – @nqotshili.