Rust found in Harare groundwater

HARARE – While groundwater tested in 28 boreholes from 30 of Harare’s suburbs is clear of cholera-causing E.Coli bacteria, some of the water is highly acidic and contains rust from rotten plumbing equipment.

Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment Council (UMSCC) chairperson Endy Mhlanga said the assessment was conducted in Greater Harare suburbs such as Mabvuku, Borrowdale, Greencroft and Msasa Industries where groundwater is mostly used to augment erratic municipal water supplies.

The UMSCC assessment comes days after two people died from suspected cholera and typhoid in Hatcliffe and Epworth — outbreaks which were triggered by a lack of clean, safe water.

“The noted few instances of parameters which were found to be slightly above the maximum allowable limit can be attributed to the dissolution of minerals into groundwater due to torrential rains. An increase of dissolved and suspended matter in groundwater as the water rises in response to the torrential rains being received and iron which is rust found in plumbing equipment,” Mhlanga said.

All 100 percent of the sampled boreholes were safe of microbial particles that cause diarrhoeal diseases.

Mhlanga said the testing exercise is on-going at mostly community and institutional boreholes which are used by large numbers of people.  

The assessment follows two more previous typhoid deaths in January in Mbare after the deceased drank water from a contaminated borehole.

According to Health minister David Parirenyatwa, over 20 of the 33 assessed boreholes in Mbare were contaminated.

Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) corporate communications manager Marjorie Manyonga said while people turned to boreholes during drought, their quality was not always safe.

She said it was mandatory for consumers to seek authority for borehole drilling in order to ensure transparency on water allocation and use and also to minimise uncontrolled groundwater abstraction.

“The quality of water from some of these boreholes is questionable since no proper assessment was carried prior to drilling. The cardinal rules that boreholes should be drilled away from potential sources of pollution and that borehole water should be tested at prescribed intervals has totally been ignored,” she said.

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