Harare Mayor Benard Manyenyeni has admitted the water being pumped to households is unfit for consumption and apologised to the residents who he urged to exercise caution when using the water.
"It is therefore, fair to share with you all that while we asset that we are doing the best to fix the quality issues, we apologise and request our consumers to exercise caution until such time as total quality is assured," Manyenyeni told a meeting attended by residents' representatives at Town House Friday.
He added that there was no justification for the coloured water coming out of the taps.
He said council was now on a drive to educate the residents in different areas on the possible health risks associated with the water, adding it was difficult at this point to ascertain which areas were receiving the poor quality water.
The Mayor called on residents from affected areas to share enough details to enable council to know which areas to target first as it sought to rectify the problem.
"The water coming out of our taps is failing the eye test in some areas. Our claims that the water is chemically safe to drink will not hold if the residents cannot stand the sight of frothing or foaming coloured water, "he said.
He said the council was facing a shortage of the main chemicals used in water treatment namely Aluminium Sulphate, Sulphuric Acid, HTH Chlorine and activated Carbon.
The major problems, however, Manyenyeni said, were a result of low capacity as the country had an infrastructure deficit of nearly 30 years.
He said the Morton Jaffray Waterworks at Lake Chivero which provided water to Harare was 60 years old and was designed to cater for a city population of 300 000 but was now serving twelve times the population.
This the mayor added, was a result of government's failure to finance council's infrastructure development programmes, noting that while some local authorities got 70 percent of their capital injection from their governments, Harare was solely dependent on ratepayers, which was unsustainable.
Harare, which solely depends on ratepayers for revenue, has been under fire from residents for pumping water that was unfit for human consumption and in some cases, not even providing tap water to some residential areas.
In some areas, residents continued to be billed for fixed water services which they last got some few years ago Some of the areas have gone for years without getting any tapped water.
At some point, the council was forced to surrender the running of its water department to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, which, however, failed to improve the situation and handed back the responsibility to council.