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Byo dams were decommissioned owing to low water levels

BY SILAS NKALA THE Bulawayo City Council said it decommissioned its three supply dams due to dwindling water levels, contrary to reports that it was because of siltation. Early this year, council decommissioned Umzingwane, Lower Ncema and Upper Ncema dams because they were below pumping level. The city remains with only three supply dams namely, Inyankuni, Mtshabezi and Insiza Mayfair dams and Lands deputy minister Douglas Karoro last week disclosed that the country’s second largest city had been left with nine months of water supply. “Abstraction through the inlet gates depends on the water level in the dams,” part of council’s presentations read. “The operational capacity of the dam is between the full supply level (ie level when the dam is spilling and the lowest abstraction level. “The water below the lowest level is dead water. The fact that the lowest level is still exposed shows that there is minimum siltation in the dams. Scooping the dams will just increase the dead water and reduce operational capacity of each dam.” Council added: “Ncema River is still as at the time it was dammed. If there was siltation, the river would be covered with sand and mud.” Bulawayo city, which had introduced 144 hours of water shedding, has since suspended the schedule saying residents would get water any time the city was able to pump the precious liquid. Most western suburbs across the city have not received water for close to two weeks, while some areas have not had water for almost a month now. Stakeholders and residents have been of the view that the city supply dams’ water levels quickly deteriorate due to high level of siltation as they called for the scooping of the water sources to increase their water holding capacity. However, council said the affected dams mostly had water that was below the outlet levels though the dams still had water. Last week, former Bulawayo councillors said the current city fathers could not escape blame for failure to manage the grave water challenges that culminated in the local authority suspending its water-shedding regime. The situation is currently forcing desperate residents to turn to unsafe sources for water, with the water crisis blamed for a diarrhoea outbreak that claimed 13 lives and infected over 2 000 others two months ago.

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