BULAWAYO City Council has conceded to contaminating underground water because of its faulty sewage treatment plants, thereby exposing residents e to waterborne diseases.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
A recent report by the council’s environmental management and engineering committee said: “The treatment works are not functioning optimally due to the compromise in the major treatment processes as some system components are not working.“
“The report added: “This is not good for the environment as partially treated sewage will be discharged, likely to be a hazard to the ecosystem and human health. It should be borne in mind that if plant performances improve, increase in revenue generation and lesser penalties would be realised.
“The tests performed by the council laboratory highlighted that the effluent discharged at all treatment plants fell below acceptable standards. As a result, high penalties are being charged to council by EMA (Environmental Management Agency). It is therefore essential to address the needs at each treatment work as outlined.”
Bulawayo City Council, which has over past few years been heavily penalised by EMA over pollution-related issues, said it has since secured about $5 million to refurbish and rehabilitate water treatment stations to avert a humanitarian disaster.
The malfunction at the water treatment plants is blamed for the decline in reclaimed water production capacity at Luveve, Waterford and Thorngrove stations, the report said.
“The reclaimed water production capacity of the three treatment plants has declined due to non-functional items of plant and decline in inflows. The tenders that are being crafted should within their scope of works cover the reclaimed water production facilities,” the environmental, management and engineering committee report said.
This comes at a time when the local authority is battling water and sewer pipe bursts owing to ageing reticulation infrastructure, some of which was installed by the colonial regime.