By Fortune Muzarabani
BULAWAYO City Council has been failing to conduct water quality tests due to water shortages in the city, at a time when the city was hit by severe diarrhoea outbreaks which claimed several lives last year.
The council introduced a 144-hour weekly water-shedding programme end of last year as the city battled a severe water crisis following two consecutive droughts.
The municipality is supposed to conduct routine water quality tests across all suburbs in the city. However, some areas such as Tshabalala and Pumula, have in some instances gone for three weeks without water.
Residents have reported poor water quality, especially after water cuts.
“The water woes that the city faced had continued to affect the monitoring programme as most sampling points were dry on sampling days.
A total of one 122 water samples had been collected for bacteriological analysis covering routine sampling routes, clinics and complaints from households,” read a recent council report.
According to data presented at the Health Housing and Education committee meeting by the Health Services Department, 15 out of 122 collected specimens were condemned.
These included water collect at Whitestone Primary School in Burnside suburb, Barham Green Swimming pool, several houses in Mpopoma suburb, Pelandaba Clinic and Bradfield Shops.
Non-faecal coliforms were found in water collected in several houses in Mpopoma suburb while faecal coliforms were found in three areas in Mpopoma and at Pelandaba clinic.
Diarrhoea cases were on the increase in the city, with close to 4,000 cases reported up to November last year.
“Diarrhoea cases (473) were on the increase in the month of September 2020, exceeding the action threshold for some clinics in Emakhandeni District. Bulawayo remained on high alert for typhoid as it was endemic in some neighbouring cities,” read the report.
BCC assured residents that borehole water in the city was of good quality but encouraged boiling before drinking as its safety and bacteriological quality could not be guaranteed.
“The Director of Engineering Services reported that the quality of the water at most of the boreholes was good. A few boreholes had a high degree of saltiness. Borehole water was naturally salty because it was drawn from deep-down the ground and the degree of saltiness would depend on the nature of rocks in the water table from which it was drawn.
“Bacteriological quality of borehole water cannot be guaranteed since the water was untreated and subject to contamination at any time from environmental factors like sewer overflows and bacteriological contaminated soil. Residents were therefore advised to boil borehole water before drinking,” read the council report.