COMMENT: Stop illegal activities at Umzingwane

The Chronicle

ILLEGAL mining activities along Umzingwane River and the alleged construction of unregistered weirs diverting water meant for Umzingwane Dam and in the process affecting water supplies to Bulawayo should be stopped forthwith and individuals behind the activities investigated and if possible prosecuted.

The water body, the most critical in providing stability to Bulawayo’s water supplies, is presently 9 percent full.

Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube is on record saying Umzingwane Dam is critical in the supply of water to Bulawayo.

“It’s raining in other areas and some places have received significant inflows but unfortunately Umzingwane Dam, the dam that balances our distribution and reticulation is very low.

“For as long as there are no inflows in Umzingwane we will remain in trouble and people must know that,” said Mr Dube.

“Umzingwane Dam needs to rise beyond 30 percent for us to be safe.”

Mr Dube said Umzingwane Dam last had significant inflows in the 2016/17 rainy season when it actually spilled.

“Normally after every four years we experience a cyclone and that is when Umzingwane Dam spills.

Last year, we were expecting that Umzingwane was going to spill but it did not spill. It only had inflows of between 35 and 37 percent,” he said.

From the above and in light of the illegal mining activities along Umzingwane River and unregistered weirs, questions have been raised on the contribution of these activities to the low water levels at Umzingwane Dam.

Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga told Chronicle yesterday that investigations by her organisation and Upper Mzingwane Sub-Catchment Council have revealed the existence two unregistered weirs which might be contributing to the low inflows into Umzingwane Dam.

“One of the weirs is along the Umzingwane River and the other is on one of Umzingwane River’s main tributary. Investigations are still underway to establish the sizes of these two weirs and find the extent to which their existence may have contributed to the depressed inflows into Umzingwane Dam, which is currently nine percent full,” said Mrs Munyonga.

“The ownership of the two weirs is also still under investigation.”

Added Mrs Munyonga, “However, the latest rainfall update shows that there has been largely below normal rainfall in the Umzingwane Dam’s catchment area as the 7 million cubic-metre dam upstream of Umzingwane Dam and owned by How Mine is also yet to fill up and is even below 50%. The same applies to the two illegal weirs on the system, which are also yet to fill up.”

While it is acknowledged that there has not been significant rainfall in the Umzingwane Catchment area, the little water that has been diverted to the unregistered weirs and by illegal mining activities could make the much-needed difference.

The police and the Bulawayo City Council have arrested more than 300 illegal gold panners for trespassing into the local authority’s property but more needs to be done to find a permanent solution to the problem.

It is also hoped that Zinwa will act swiftly and deal with the issue of unregistered weirs so that water can flow uninterrupted into Umzingwane Dam.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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