By Lungile Ngwenya and Abigirl Khupe
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is likely to decommission two of its supply dams by the end of the year a situation that will see the reintroduction of the water shedding programme.
Bulawayo draws water from Insiza, Umzingwane, Inyankuni, Mtshabezi, Lower and Upper Ncema Dams, all situated in the drought-prone Matabeleland South province.
The city also relies on the Nyamandlovu aquifer to augment its water supply.
This came out during a City of Bulawayo service level benchmarking peer review site visit to Umzingwane Dam and booster station, Egodini Mall Site, Richmond Landfill, and Criterion Treatment waterworks.
The city`s director of engineering services, Engineer Simela Dube said Umzingwane dam is one of the most crucial dams that supply water to the city with a capacity of 44 million cubic litres but currently holds 15 million cubic litres.
“Umzingwane dam is sitting at 26% and it is likely to run out by December 2019,” said Eng Dube.
“This will mean BCC will be compelled to implement a tighter water rationing programme and also a tighter water shedding programme.”
He said there is more water abstraction at the dam to the other dams because of the way it was designed.
“Umzingwane was designed with an option to pump which is why when demand increases, we pump more water from the dam,” said Dube.
“All other dams were designed with a gravity system meaning water flows through a gravity system into the treatment works and that flow is normally constant.”
The engineer said Upper Ncema dam is also likely to run out by the end of this wet season.
“Upper Ncema dam is already down at 15% and we think before the end of this wet and dry season, we will be decommissioning the dam,” said Dube.
He stated the combined capacity of the dams is at 57% with Mtshabezi dam having the highest capacity.
“Most of the water sits in Mtshabezi dam at 88% full followed by Insiza dam at 67% full,” said Dube.
He said the solution in providing adequate water in the city is to increase the water supply, especially at Nyamandlovu aquifer.
“At Nyamandlovu aquifer, the city installed capacity is to pump 26 megalitres per day into the city, but currently ZINWA can only give us 3 megalitres of water per day, said Dube.
He urged residents to conserve water at household level in order to sustain the water reservoirs.
“We are pleading with the consumers to stay within their limits so that they minimise the depletion of their reservoirs. Hence water will be supplied 24 hours if everyone conserves water,” said the BCC engineer.
“We have shared the water conservation tips that people should not fill their bathtubs, use a cup to brush teeth, use a shower instead of a bathtub. Reuse water for gardening purposes. We also encourage people to flush water down the sewer system.”