BULAWAYO’S two million residents are being asked to flush their toilets all at the same time once every three days as the city grapples with a worsening water crisis.
There is not enough water in the reticulation system and waste is not moving for days. The build-up is causing sewer pipes to burst all over the city, say council officials.
Now engineers are recommending that every household must flush their toilets at 7.30PM every three days when water services are restored across the city during the on-going water shedding.
Simela Dube, Bulawayo’s director of engineering services, said: “We need to flush our toilets at the same time to push all the waste that will just be under the surface as residents would be using little water to flush toilets during water shedding hours.”
In a statement, council spokeswoman Nesisa Mpofu added: “Every household is requested to flush their toilets systematically at 7.30PM the very day when water is back after the 72 hours of water shedding.
“This is done to prevent any sewer blockages as we anticipate longer periods without water in the reticulation system. Please note that this is in addition to the normal flushing that will occur during the day.
“This is due to the recent water shedding programme by council which has seen a reduced amount of water entering the sewer system.”
Two of Bulawayo’s five water supply dams have already been decommissioned and the water levels have reached critical levels at the remaining dams – the result of the worst drought in south-western Zimbabwe in almost four years.
A long-mooted plan to build a pipeline to draw water from the Zambezi River has reached implementation stage after the Chinese government committed US$2,2 billion for the project – but it will not be complete for at least another two years.
As a long-term solution is being pursued, Bulawayo residents are going for up to two weeks without water. The worst hit areas are Entumbane, Harrisvale, Old Pumula, New Magwegwe and New Lobengula.
Council spokesman Mpofu explained: “Water, unlike electricity, takes long to move from the nearest reservoir to the point of consumption particularly if the latter is far. Also water flows to low lying areas first.
“The residential areas that are not receiving water are all high altitude areas and will always be the last to receive water.”
The council has been sending water bowsers to worst affected areas.