Zimbabwe: Bulawayo Mulls Introduction of Water Limiters

A tap of running water.

THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is mulling over the introduction water flow limiters as part of its strategies to manage the use of the natural resource.

Flow limiters/restrictors are gadgets installed on a water tap to limit the flow of water from one's tap without reducing water pressure.

The country's second largest city, which has had its own perennial water challenges, has since been forced to disconnect water supplies to households that have defaulted on bill payments.

The move, seen as an infringement on citizens' right to access clean water, has been blocked by courts of law that have ruled that local authorities have to seek their indulgence to carry out water disconnections.

According to the latest council minutes, the water restricting gadgets will assist residents saddled with council debt.

"The matter was considered and the Director of Engineering services explained that because of the current challenges, there was need to look at the proposal to use flow limiters instead of disconnections as a water management strategy," read the city's Future Water Supplies and Water Action Committee report.

"The device restricted one's consumption to predetermined levels of supply and it was most useful to those residents who could not afford to pay their bills.

"The device would restrict them to the allocation of 5 kiloliters, specific water meters who need to be installed as the old water meters are not suitable for this exercise."

However, councillors predicted that the move might face resistance from residents who previously resisted council's attempts to install pre-paid water meters.

"The Chairperson (Future Water Supplies and Water Action Committee - Councillor S. Moyo) felt that such an item would trigger a lot of queries from residents. The previous prepaid water meters were not well received by residents.

"The residents might object thinking that the prepaid water scheme was now being introduced through the back door. He suggested that the report be considered after the consultative strategic meeting to be held in Hwange. The outcome of the stakeholders meeting would help council come out with a decision on this matter," the report read.

The Chamber Secretary Sikhangele Zhou argued that the device will ensure residents make use of their allotted monthly free water supply.

"The Chamber Secretary advised that the proposed device would assist residents to manage their free allocation of 5 kiloliters without raising the ire of water as a human rights issue as it would ensure every household still received the 5 kiloliter free allocation even in cases of non-payment which had previously resulted in complete cut-offs," the report read.

According to the minutes, the city's six supply dams are 65.58 percent full with the current water supplies expected to sustain the city until 2021.

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