THE City of Mutare intends to construct a new US$30 million water treatment plant to meet the growing demands of water in the city, the acting town clerk Dr Antony Mutara has said.
Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday the acting Town Clerk who is the Health Services director said once the Dangamvura pipeline issue is fixed Mutare will need more water to meet the demand as the city’s population of about 260 000 people according to the 2012 census, has evidently ballooned in the past eight years.
Dr Mutara urged residents to pay their utility bills to raise money for such significant capital projects. “We are targeting to bring on board a new water treatment plant, through the Odzi abstraction from Osborne Dam, which will be a costly project. We will need to raise money especially from revenue collections,” said the acting town clerk.
He said currently the city’s water deficit situation was hidden because of non-supply of water in some parts of high density suburbs such as Dangamvura, Hobhouse, Chikanga Phase 3 and Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) area.
“Currently we have a hidden water deficit in the city of 17 mega litres per day. This amount is not readily visible because supply of water is not going to areas like in Dangamvura and Gimboki. The water calculation demand for the city as we speak now, we should have had extra capacity of 17 mega litres per day. Actually according to our projections by 2030 we will need an extra 30 mega litres, which is a lot. This is already a hidden deficit because once the Dangamvura pipeline is fixed this will increase demand, so we must prepare now,” he said.
He added that the current production capacity would have exceeded by 17 percent once the Dangamvura pipeline project is completed, which explains why they will need an additional water treatment plant. “The proposals have been done. We would need to have the new treatment plant through Odzi, abstracting the water from Osborne Dam. Failure to do this project we would have to negotiate with our Mozambican counterparts to abstract more water from Pungwe which we share with them,” said Dr Mutara.
Zimbabwe and Mozambique share Pungwe River through a Pungwe River Basin Trans-boundary Bilateral Agreement ratified in 2016. The Pungwe River stretches for about 40km from Nyanga Mountains to the city of Beira in Mozambique. 4.7 percent of the river basin lies in Zimbabwe and 95.3 percent in Mozambique. Mutare currently gets its drinking water from Pungwe River, Odzani and Small Bridge dams.
The acting town clerk also warned residents that are illicitly hoarding water at water leak points in the city and selling it, to desist from such practices. He said the punitive band charged on water above 50m3 in high density suburbs and above 100m3 in low density areas was meant to avoid abuse of water by residents. The water barons have been selling water at 50 cents (US$) for 20 litres.
”There are water barons that have been trucking and supplying water in areas without water, charging people. This is because our water charges are so cheap. However, we need to use water judiciously that is the reason why the punitive band is meant to guide residents not to go beyond their consumption. If you go beyond that you will pay extra. Those that have been abusing water for one reason or another by attending to water leaks will have to pay a price for that loss of water. That is why we came up with the punitive bands. Some people use 750 mega-litres in a household in a month. That is too much,” he said.
Dr Mutara added that even after introducing the step up tariffs this year, Mutare still has the cheapest water in the country. He said this is because Mutare uses less chemicals and gravity to pump the water unlike what is done in most cities countrywide. He said the disadvantage however is that the pressure of the water is very high through gravity which means the local authority faces severe challenges of water bursts which becomes costly. “This means we require constant repairs and regular supply of new pipes. That also drives the cost of water,” said Dr Mutara.
In February last year, a team of African Development Bank (AfDB) and Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund (ZimFund) executives came to Mutare to check on progress on the Urgent Water Supply and Sanitation Rehabilitation Project (UWSSRP) in Mutare. The local authority partnered with the AfDB to upgrade Dangamvura’s water pipeline problem. AfDB is providing the resources then the local authority will provide the technical expertise and manpower to complete the long overdue project.
The completion of the 10km water pipeline which is said to be left with about 2km to be complete is expected bring relief for the Dangamvura residents. Dangamvura which has an excess of 15 000 residential stands has been receiving unreliable water supplies for over 15 years after the project was shelved. In 2012, the municipality lost US$330 000 to a bogus Harare company that had been contracted to supply water piping materials. The botched deal involved some councilors and senior managers who were accused of corruptly awarding the tender to an undeserving company without undertaking due diligence.
Apart from the Dangamvura water pipeline, AfDB is also bankrolling the Hobhouse water reservoir and the Gimboki sewerage works.