The entire Manyame River — providing water to more than 3 million Harare residents is contaminated, a top official has warned.
Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment Council (UMSCC) compliance assistant Susan Nyarugwe told commemorations of the UN World Water Day hosted by Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (Wez) on Wednesday that Manyame — which connects to Lake Chivero and Darwendale dams that provide water to Zimbabwe’s capital — was impure.
“In Harare we have Lake Chivero and Darwendale dams which are highly polluted surface water bodies,” she said.
Pollutants mainly found in the water are municipal waste and nutrients from stream bank cultivation in urban and peri-urban areas, she said.
UMSCC research conducted on the ground water showed it was still safe but warned that once the underground aquifers are contaminated, it will be very difficult to reverse.
Environmental Management Agency’s education and publicity officer Liberty Mugadza said while burst sewers were no longer a problem, it was trade effluent from industries which posed a serious risk.
“First, we have to account for how much is getting into the water then we regulate what is discharged. Sewer bursts are not a problem unless they are chronic.
“The water situation in Harare is not desirable because of a lot of factors, chief among them, waste management,” he said.
Lipian Mtandabari, Wez Mashonaland chairperson, said water is being wasted daily through burst pipes and loose domestic taps.
“People should know the importance of saving water because we only recently came out of a severe drought which was threatening not only the people but also our wildlife,” he said.
Harare’s water quality has been questionable following revelations by senior University of Zimbabwe environmental expert Christopher Magadza that residents were drinking water contaminated with sewage.