The government has finally taken the first step in trying to rectify Bulawayo’s decades-old water problem.
It is now planning to link Mtshabezi and Mzingwane Dams and is inviting tenders for an environmental impact assessment on the proposed 33 km pipeline.
The tenders close on December 2.
Mzingwane Dam dried up a few months ago leaving the council with only two major supply dams, Insiza and Inyankuni. Two other dams that supply Bulawayo with water Lower and Upper Ncema were decommissioned when they had also run low.
The Bulawayo City Council introduced water rationing in July. Residents, including those in high density suburbs who at times go for weeks without water, have been receiving hefty water bills as penalties for using more water than they are entitled to.
The council, which used to build a new dam for itself every 10 years last built its own dam in 1976. The government, which took over management of water resources throughout the country, has not been able to build any new water sources for Bulawayo, which is now banking on the proposed Zambezi Water Project and Mtshabezi.
Local government Minister Ignatius Chombo promised the council last month to speed up the link between Mtshabezi and Mzingwane. He also said the government would expand the Nyamandlovu Aquifer to include borehole drilling in Epping Forest.
Chombo said he would approach resident Minister for Bulawayo Cain Mathema to secure fuel for the council to help it deal with water leaks and thus conserve water.
Council spokesman Pathisa Nyathi said the council had received 20 000 litres of diesel and 5 000 litres of petrol.
He also said the Mtshabezi-Mzingwane link had been on the cards since 1996. It was in fact initiated by the government which said it would then sell water to the council at the blend rate.
Nothing had been done despite numerous letters of correspondence. This year alone, the council had written to the Ministry of Water twice, but had not received any response.
Minister of Water Resources Munacho Mutezo was, however, quoted at the weekend as saying that the government had already identified a company that would lay the pipeline after the environmental impact assessment. He was quoted as saying the assessment report should be available within eight weeks.