Type to search

Nearly 400m litres sewage contaminates water bodies daily

Latest News

Nearly 400m litres sewage contaminates water bodies daily


CLOSE to 400 million litres of raw sewage is being discharged into water bodies, including those that provide drinking water to the country’s major cities everyday as a result of run-down sewer infrastructure and rapid urban expansion.

A survey commissioned by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to monitor the quality of water in the country’s water bodies has concluded that due to unrestrained dumping of untreated sewage, pollution levels in some major water bodies had reached alarming levels.

It has been established that Umguza River, Lake Manyame, Lake Chivero, and Sebakwe Dam have all been heavily polluted, a development that has adversely affected potable water quality in some urban centres.

Harare gets most of its water from Lake Chivero and Manyame Dam.

Umguza River feeds into Gwayi River, which is set to provide water for Lake Gwayi- Shangani which is currently under construction.

The dam is set to provide potable water to Bulawayo and several urban centres in the Matabeleland Provinces.

Water released from Sebakwe dam to Cactus Poort dam supplies Kwekwe Municipality and Redcliff town.

Sebakwe is also the main source of water for Sable Chemical Industries, Munyati Power Station and a number of irrigators in the Midland Province.

As a result of the pollution to Harare’s main sources of water, last year the city spent around 56 percent of its water supply budget on procurement of water treatment chemicals.

Most urban centres have been run by successive opposition-led councils for over 20 years.

The councils have been accused of gross mismanagement and corruption.

In an interview, EMA spokesperson Ms Amkela Sidange said there was an urgent need for a robust national sewer infrastructure rehabilitation programme to avert a water pollution crisis.

“Ambient water quality results show significant pollution in urban streams compared to streams in other areas,” she said.

“This has been largely attributed to the discharge of raw and partially treated sewage into water environments.

“The last survey done by the agency revealed that about 399 megalitres of partially treated or raw sewage is discharged into the environment on a daily basis.

“As you would appreciate, our sewer infrastructure is dilapidated and overwhelmed hence the urgent need for a robust national sewer infrastructure rehabilitation and upgrading programme, as well as ring-fencing of levies paid by residents for sewer reticulation to serve that purpose only.”

Ms Sidange said last year EMA issued 45 environmental protection orders and 244 tickets for water pollution-related cases.

“The agency also conducts regular ambient environmental quality monitoring, particularly air and water quality as a quick indicator of negative impacts of developmental activities and therefore paving way for immediate intervention.

“The agency also has powers to take prosecutorial measures against those found violating the law. These include serving Environmental Protection Orders (EPO), issuing fines and opening dockets or summoning perpetrators to a hearing through the Environment Management Board.

“In 2021 alone, a total of 45 environmental protection orders were served, 244 tickets issued and 7 court processes were initiated for water pollution-related cases.”

Last year, 44 companies in Harare were fined $1 200 each after failing to install pre- treatment facilities to treat industrial effluent at their premises.

EMA has on several occasions fined the Harare City Council for discharging raw sewage into water bodies.

Contacted for comment, Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme referred all questions to EMA.

“Talk to Sidange, I am not sure in what context have they come to that conclusion,” he said curtly.

Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director Mr Precious Shumba accused Harare of not treating sewage waste.

“There is untreated sewage being discharged by the City of Harare onto the stream between Kuwadzana Extension and Kuwadzana 7,” said Mr Shumba.

“This has become extremely dangerous for residents”.

He said untreated sewage is flowing into streams which then feed the city’s major water bodies.

“This makes the cost of treating water more expensive due to the increase in the number of water treatment chemicals required to purify the water.

“Discharging untreated or partially treated sewage into our streams and rivers worsens water pollution and increases the burden on ratepayers.”

There have been several outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera and typhoid in Harare over the years.

Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe secretary-general Mr Livison Mutekede said urban local authorities should prioritise water and sanitation.

“All our members are seized with this matter, and as an association, we expect each urban local authority to prioritise water and sanitation in their budgets and ensure they utilise the opportunity provided by the National Devolution and Decentralisation Policy being implemented by the Second Republic,” said Mr Mutekede.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Enjoy our stories? Please spread the word: