THE Bulawayo City Council may re-introduce water shedding amid projections that water levels in supply dams would be critically low by the start of next year.
Engineering services director Engineer Simela Dube told journalists at a media briefing in council chambers yesterday that the city would face water problems next year as Lower Ncema, Umzingwane and Upper Ncema dams are expected to be depleted by January 2016.
The city would be left relying on three supply dams – Insiza, Mtshabezi and Inyankuni.
Eng Dube said although there was enough water in the dams to last 31 months, the city would have a crisis if the three dams are decommissioned, as small extraction pipes limit capacity to draw more water from the remaining dams.
“We fear that in 2016 we might have to introduce water shedding if we don’t receive rains,” said Eng Dube.
He said the city was losing a lot of water due to burst pipes.
Water shedding is a system of conserving tap water by cutting supplies for a given period.
At its height in 2012, residents went without water for up to 72 hours every week.
Meanwhile, Eng Dube said residents would face challenges if water shedding was re-introduced because the city’s borehole water is unsafe for drinking.
He said the city’s 352 boreholes were prone to contamination.
“Borehole water in the city is meant for external use. In worst case scenarios, residents should first boil the water before drinking it,” Eng Dube said.
“Borehole water is supposed to be used for things like gardening not for drinking. The problem is that borehole water is open to contamination any time and it’s difficult for the local authority to continuously check on the borehole water quality.”
Tap water, said Eng Dube, is safe because its quality is checked hourly by the local authority.
He said borehole water could be easily contaminated by sewage systems and other underground flows.
“We cannot give residents a guarantee on the safety of borehole water as there are many pipes and other flows that happen beneath the ground that we are not aware of,” said Eng Dube.
The engineering services director said even the local authority by-laws barred residents from drinking borehole water.
He said residents should stick to the stipulated tap water.