Zimbabwe’s second-largest city is considering recycling water from a dam polluted with sewage because it can no longer supply its 650,000 inhabitants with running water.
Bulawayo’s municipality wants to make use of the Khami Dam, where the water is of an acceptable standard, said Sikhumbuzo Ncube, the city’s engineering services deputy director. The reservoir on the western outskirts of the city has also been sullied by run-off from farms and factories.
The city, southwest of the capital Harare, is trying to alleviate the effects of a drought that has limited it to turning on the taps just once a week. Three of its six reservoirs aren’t currently in use because water levels are too low and the others are less than 25% full.
While it’s feasible to purify water polluted with sewage, Zimbabwe, which is in a state of economic collapse, doesn’t have a good track record in supplying potable water. When available, piped water is already of a poor standard.
“Council is failing to purify dam water, how can they claim to purify sewage water?” said Emmanuel Ndlovu, coordinator of the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association.
Initial assessments show the water is safe to use and it will be purified to get rid of bacteria and pollutants, the city’s public relations department said in a response to questions.