Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
Many suburbs in Bulawyo are likely to be without water tomorrow as the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) conducts an essential power maintenance exercise.

The scheduled maintenance will affect most of Bulawayo’s suburbs including the city’s Criterion Water Works which provides water to western suburbs.

The exercise will be conducted between 9AM and 4PM.

ZETDC issued a public notice stating its programmed maintenance exercise.

“In order to carry out essential maintenance work on the Bulawayo 88 kilovolts (kV) network between Donnington 88/11kV substation and Emganwini 88kV Switching Station, clients in the areas mentioned below are advised that their electricity supplies will be interrupted on Friday 23 October 2020 from 9AM to 4PM,” read the notice

The exercise will affect Criterion Water Works, some industrial areas in the city, Tsholotsho, Figtree and Plumtree among other areas falling under ZETDC’s western region.

Last week there was no water across the city for two consecutive days due to low levels at the city’s reservoirs as a result of power outages.

A similar situation was also experienced on Monday.

Last month, a power surge at Fernhill Booster Station affected delivery of clear and raw water at Tuli and Criterion reservoirs forcing the local authority to indefinitely suspend provision of water across the city while it worked to fix the fault.

The worsening water crisis has caused outbreak of diarrhoea in Luveve and Mzilikazi suburbs killing 13 people and infecting more than 2 000 residents.

BCC senior public relations officer Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said any power cut has an impact on city’s ability to provide water to residents.

She said the scheduled ZETDC maintenance will affect water provision as the city no longer has adequate water in its reservoirs.

“The maintenance works by ZETDC will affect the treatment of the water and consequently the amount of water in the reservoirs which supply the residents of Bulawayo and the restoration schedule. The council is live-supplying water to residents which means that when there is no electricity it cannot pump any raw water or pump any treated water. It means we cannot provide and treat water for the day,” she said.

Mrs Mpofu said any electrical blackout affects the city’s water supplies causing citywide water cuts.

“The reservoir levels will not be permitting restoration of water supplies due to non-treatment or pumping as a result of faults (electricity, service faults, power surges etc). As such there would be inadequate supplies in the reservoirs to avail water to other areas,” said Mrs Mpofu.

She said the water shortage challenges had forced council to adopt the Provisional Water Supply Restoration Strategy Schedule.

Mrs Mpofu said the schedule entailed that council provides water to limited suburbs at any given time.

She said even when council is providing water to limited residents, consumption rate remains higher than what council can pump.

Mrs Mpofu said water consumption stands at 102 megalitres per day against council’s limit of 96 ML per day.

Before adopting the new schedule, the council had imposed a 144-hour weekly water shedding exercise but depleting water levels saw council abandoning the programme.

“Under the The Provisional Water Restoration Strategy Schedule, council supplies residents with what is available at any given day from the service reservoirs. The schedule is also meant to ensure that the reservoirs do not collapse as any collapse of the reservoirs will mean the city goes for weeks without water,” said Mrs Mpofu.

“This is because we have limited quantities coming into the city from the supply dams and we also do not have any reserves in the raw water reservoir to provide a buffer should there be any challenges faced. Water treatment is now directly from the pipeline to the treatment plant.” – @nqotshili.