The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is considering introducing the use of flow limiters to restrict the abuse of treated water as part of its water management strategy.
According to the latest council report, the device restricts one’s consumption to predetermined levels of supply and it could be most useful to those residents who cannot afford to pay their bills.
“The device would restrict them to the allocation of 5kiloliters, specific water meters who need to be installed as the old water meters are not suitable for this exercise,” read the minutes.
The local authority`s Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Simela Dube explained that because of the current challenges there was need to look at the proposal to use flow limiters instead of disconnections as a water management strategy.
The Chamber Secretary Sikhangele Zhou concurred saying using the device would not deny residents access to portable water, as was the case when council was forced to disconnect water supplies to cajole residents to settle their debt.
“The Chamber Secretary advised that the proposed device would assist residents to manage their free allocation of 5 kiloliters without raising the ire of water as a human rights issue as it would ensure every household still received the 5 kiloliter free allocation even in cases of non -payment which had previously resulted in complete cut-offs,” read the minutes.
Ward 22 Councilor Rodney Jele suggested Council should first educate the residents on the devices before rolling out the programme.
“The proposal is fine but as council we have to educate the residents on how the device is going to be used,” said Jele.
The Chairperson of the Future Water Supplies and Water Action Committee Alderman Siboniso Khumalo concurred saying the initiative would trigger a lot of queries from residents.
“The previous prepaid water meters were not well received by residents. The residents might object thinking that the prepaid water scheme was now being introduced through the back door,” he said.
In 2013, the local authority mooted the idea of introducing prepaid water meters but residents resisted the move, saying it will deny residents access to clean water.