Bulawayo City Council (BCC) senior public relations officer, Nesisa Mpofu says illegal gold panning in areas surrounding the city's supply dams has contributed to perennial water challenges faced by the authority.
When such happenings occur on a large scale within the catchment city dams, she says, the flow of water into the dams is hugely affected.
Bulawayo gets its water from Mtshabezi Dam, Umzingwane, Lower Ncema, Upper Ncema Dams, Insiza and Inyankuni dams.
"The city has a stationed surveillance team of rangers in the supply dams' area to monitor the areas daily.
"The major challenge in the supply dams' area is gold panning rather than sand poaching," said Mpofu.
Bulawayo has had its fair share of water woes.
The local authority had decreed a 14-hour water shedding schedule but residents are now receiving the scarce necessity only once a week.
This has seen most locals especially in the high-density suburbs of the city settle for borehole water which they fetch from nearby schools or churches.
Mpofu denied sand poachers contributed to water scarcity within the city.
She however said the local authority was doing its best to bring a stop to the vice.
"The challenges of sand poaching are a city-wide challenge. However, the City of Bulawayo has continuous monitoring to attend to sand poachers.
"Council has a designated site (Mazwi village) for pit sand at a cheaper price, the place is meant to help reduce sand poaching on the outskirts of the city," she said.
Bulawayo also carries out joint operations with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Forestry Commission to curb poaching and help enforce deterrent measures against offenders.
Mpofu also appealed to members of the public to help in fighting the perpetrators.
"It should be noted that if the local communities can also help with quick reports when they see these activities taking place, the city will also be able to quickly bring them to book," she said.