Government has put in place measures to address access to water and to reduce its pollution through the construction of US$250 million new sewerage works in Harare, and a US$13,261 million sewer rehabilitation and upgrade for Bulawayo.
This follows the realisation that Harare and Bulawayo city councils were among the major polluters, discharging raw sewage into water bodies.
As a result, the cost of purifying water has increased.
The US$270 million is coming from the China Export-Import Bank and the African Development Bank.
The country's economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, identifies water management and sanitation as core development objectives and within this scope, Government will oversee construction of related infrastructure, including dams and conveyance systems between 2013 and 2018.
According to a Status Report on Harare Metropolitan Waste Water Infrastructure, there is heavy pollution of the Harare metropolitan catchment area emanating from the poor state and/or absence of waste water infrastructure, non-adherence to trade effluent by-laws by industry, rapid population growth and unplanned settlements.
"The metropolitan has eight waste water treatment works with a combined design capacity of 299,5 mega litres a day with a combined water reticulation system of 6 900. The waste water facilities are characterised by dysfunctional treatment plans, corroded and undersized trunk mains.
"The province is only utilising 30 percent of the design capacity of the plants.
"In addition, the waste water inflows outstrip the design capacity. The situation is further aggravated by non-reticulated households polluting the environment," reads part of the report.
Bulawayo City is discharging raw sewer into Khami Dam and Umguza River; and experts were recently dispatched to carry out a detailed study of water quality and determine the impact of the polluted water on agriculture and people living in the Umguza area.
Addressing the media in Harare on Wednesday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said as a result of erratic water supplies by local authorities, the urban population had been relying on unsafe shallow wells.
He said councils had presented plans to mitigate pollution.
Harare, he said, would re-commission Firle Treatment Works by May 31, 2014 for US$1 million, as well as re-commission the Crowborough effluent ponds.
"Desludging of Crowborough and Firle Holdings Ponds by August, 2014 at a cost of US$2 million under Zimfund phase 1, pump and pipe replacement at Borrowdale Brooke Sewage Pump Station by December 2014 at a cost of US$5,93 million funded by China Eximbank," he said.
Dr Chombo said in the long-term, the City of Harare would spend US$55,21 million on sewer rehabilitation and upgrades using funds from China Eximbank and AfDB.
He said Bulawayo, on May 13 this year, unveiled a US$13,261 million project and borrowing power applications to 17 potential financiers who have expressed willingness to support the local authority in sewer rehabilitation and upgrades.