Chinhoyi Losing 62% Treated Water Through Vandalism

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

CHINHOYI, which is perennially facing acute water shortages, is reportedly losing an estimated 62,5% of treated water due to obsolete infrastructure and vandalism by some residents.

Currently, the Mashonaland West provincial capital treats 24 megalitres of water daily against an optimum of 30 megalitres.

The quantification of water leakages is contained in Auditor General Mildred Chiri’s 2019 report tabled before parliament last week.

The report highlights huge volumes of potable water were being lost due to pipe bursts, leaks, and illegal connections.

Some of the town’s 15 wards such as Shackleton and Alaska have gone for more than 20 years without taped water.

According to the latest AG’s report, the suburbs had a total 1 694 households without access to potable water.

Also, in Rujeko suburb, 365 out of its 380 households did not have water accounts which means council was losing potential revenue from households not billed for water usage.

These undocumented users were benefitting from illegal connections done by errant council and private plumbers.

Council public relations officer, Tichaona Mlauzi, said stakeholder engagement was ongoing to identify private partners for water augmentation, and curbing vandalism of the reticulation system by residents harvesting water for gardening and other domestic uses.

“We are looking for partners to consummate public private partnerships (PPPs) in water augmentation and overhaul the infrastructure. We are also in the process of engaging residents on vandalism and illegal connections,” he said.

Mlauzi added; “Our infrastructure is obsolete, for example, the Hunyani water works were built in 1996 and have not undergone incremental upgrades to meet the growth in population of the town.

“Another external challenge we have as council is the misuse of water, particularly by residents on low ground who get most of the water, most of the time. Our pipe network is configured in such a way that water reaches the lowest point first and builds pressure (by capillary effect) until it gets to high ground.

“However, due to the fact that those on low ground use water with reckless abandon, at times using hosepipes which are banned, those on high ground receive little or no water at all.”

Also, the 600mm water pipe passing through Chinhoyi Primary School suffers recurrent vandalism by people who extract treated water resulting in heavy losses to the local authority, Mlauzi added.

He revealed some rogue elements were also damaging sewer pipes to collect raw sewerage, which they use as organic manure for their vegetable gardens.

The council spokesperson reiterated water conservation by the town’s estimated 114 000 residents could translate to realisation of 200 litres per capita (person) daily and curtail further water losses.