Kwekwe City Council is losing between 45 and 55 percent of its treated water to leakages due to ageing pipes and vandalism, town clerk Dr Lucia Mnkandla has said.
Speaking during a consultative meeting on the supplementary budget recently, Dr Mnkandla said the cash strapped local authority had been failing to repair water infrastructure due to financial challenges.
"Non-revenue water has reached alarming levels of about 55 percent and some of the pipes are older than most of us here," she said.
"There is need for consistent and continuous upgrading of water infrastructure, because of financial challenges we are failing to do that."
Illegal gold panners have been singled out for breaking water pipes in search of water for their gold purification process.
"The situation is being worsened by gold panners who are in the habit of breaking pipes in search of water for their gold purification process," said Dr Mnkandla. "We are calling on residents to be responsible and protect the infrastructure that we have."
Director of Works, Engineer John Mhike, said they were working around the clock to plug the leakages.
"Our non-revenue water is ranging between 45 and 55 percent as you heard," he said. "We have improved from 2018 where it was around 65 percent and we will continue working hard to deal decisively with this issue."
Eng Mhike said they had since put in place a reaction team to respond to spontaneous bursts.
"As part of dealing with the leakages, we have assembled a small reaction team that responds to physical bursts," he said.
"This has resulted in the reduction of the non-revenue water."
Eng Mhike said there was need by council to refurbish its water recycling plant, which is also responsible for most of the water leakages.
"Funds permitting, there is need to refurbish our recycling plant which is responsible for the loss of water," said Eng Mhike.