4 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Probe Condemns City Boreholes

TWENTY-SIX boreholes, including one that supplies water at the popular braai spot kwaMereki, are contaminated with faecal matter that can cause typhoid. Some of the condemned boreholes are in the eastern and western parts of Harare.

Over 800 typhoid cases have been reported in Harare since the onset of the rainy season.

The city manages 235 boreholes that were recently transferred to its management after being drilled by private partners.

A survey by Harare Water of at least 114 boreholes in Tafara, Mabvuku, Caledonia, Hatcliffe, Budiriro, Glen View, Warren Park, Dzivaresekwa, Highfield and other western suburbs showed that 19 boreholes were contaminated with faecal matter.

Harare Water director Engineer Christopher Zvobgo confirmed the development.

He said some of the contaminated boreholes are at Hilltop Tarven Warren Park, Warren Park Clinic, Emmanuel Baptist and Mereki, among other centres.

"Eighty-five boreholes were analysed. Nineteen boreholes did not comply with WHO guidelines for coliforms and Ecoli," he said.

Eng Zvobgo said the "borehole aprons" were not draining excess water, hence seepage of the water back into the borehole causing contamination.

"We are still testing the other boreholes. Residents should be aware that the contaminated water is coming from boreholes and not from the city's reticulation system," he said.

Eng Zvobgo said the city was now fitting all boreholes with inline chlorinators, implying that the water is treated as it is fetched.

He said previous attempts to chlorinate the boreholes did not yield positive results as the aquifers continued to produce more water that diluted the treatment.

Council would not seal off any of the contaminated boreholes because of the new solution to treating the water.

The inline chlorinators were bought for US$129 250.

So far, 50 of the items have been delivered.

Another 3 500 privately-owned boreholes are registered with council, but estimates show that the majority of boreholes are not registered.

Town Planner Mr Percy Toriro hailed the sample testing exercise, saying the process was long overdue.

"We have often said that factors that cause contamination are many and vary over time and seasons. So it is not a surprise that some are contaminated

"With many burst sewer pipes, deteriorating environmental situation and a host of other factors, this is to be expected," he said.

He urged city fathers to heed calls for environmental conservation.

"Harare sits on its catchment. Everything that we do to the catchment ends up in our water supply dams, which are downstream of the city.

"When you throw any dirt in the Mukuvisi and its tributaries, dispose of oils in the drains, whatever it is, just remember it is going into the water that we will later on drink," he said.

He said the installation of chlorinators would deal with pathogens in the water.

He urged city fathers to attend to burst pipes because this resulted in 40 percent-plus loss of treated water.

Eng Zvobgo said the private owners could also approach the city to have their water tested.

He said Ethekwini Municipality (Durban) had struck a deal that would ensure that Harare receives water throughout the day.

The project involves the installation of pressure reducing valves on all critical pipe network nodes and the installation of zone meters to account for water supplied to particular zones.

Ethekwini Municipality has agreed to assist by sourcing funds for the production of a water and sewer master plan.

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