Bulawayo Set To Run Dry

Two more dams, Upper Ncema and Inyankuni will be decommissioned in the coming months unless significant rain is received urgently as they are less than 30% full – at 17% and 21.3% full respectively.

“Umzingwane Dam is currently at 12.03% and being the one with the lowest inflow, it is most likely to be decommissioned in mid February if there are no significant inflows,” according to latest Bulawayo City Council report on the water situation in the city.

If the three dams are decommissioned, Bulawayo whose population continues to increase will be left with Lower Ncema and Insiza which are presently at 56% and 87.2% full respectively.

Bulawayo has faced perennial water problems since independence during which both residents and the city fathers have pinned their hopes on an ambitious project to draw water from the Zambezi River.

The Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, a long held plan to tap water from the Zambezi River through the construction of a 450km pipeline to arid Matabeleland, was mooted way back in 1912.

Costs have since ballooned to about US$600 million, way beyond what the cash-strapped Zimbabwe government can afford.

At one time in a bid to alleviate water shortages government planned to pump water from the heavily polluted Khami dam that was decommissioned in 1998 because of high levels of sewage and industrial waste to the city.

The move was however resisted by residents, health experts and the local authority.