Water a Major Health Hazard

Water a Major Health Hazard - Expert
HARARE - The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) is pumping into the system for Harare and its metropolitan centres water that is 50% below ideal standards of cleanliness and purity due to lack of adequate chemicals, an expert has said.

Engineer Lovemore Makada used to work in the then Harare City Council water treatment department but resigned and is now in private practice. He told The Zimbabwean on Sunday about his findings after doing laboratory tests on many samples of water being consumed in homes and industries around Harare, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Norton.

The beleaguered water utility has even resorted to doing without some vital chemicals in the water treatment.

The tests have shown that the quality and standard of water is below 50% of the levels safe for human consumption, meaning exposing the consumers to serious health risks, Makada said. The assessments done at various stages show that almost all the vital chemicals are lacking from time to time and probably place to place.

Makada did the tests and assessment as part of a private project on behalf of some organization but agreed to disclose the findings to this paper.

Among the vital chemicals required for water treatment are algicides, chlorine, clarifiers, filter cleansers, muriatric acids and sodium bicarbonate, most of which ZINWA has to import.

Some of the chemicals used to be produced locally, but the manufacturers have either closed down or are not managing due to their own problems, a senior ZINWA official said on condition of anonymity. The major problem is lack of foreign currency for importing these chemicals and indeed at most times the treatment process is done with little quantities and at times without others.

Makada said his test showed that algicides seem to be the most problematic chemicals because of the green, smelly qualities that the water from ZINWA usually has. An algicide is a chemical which when added to water kills algae and blue-green algae, he said.

He added that the water being consumed contained serious levels of sewage products that escape the treatment process most obviously due to lack or inadequacy of chemicals.

Added to that, aged equipment at water treatment plants is often breaking down, worsening the situation as ZINWA would have to use what an insider described as makeshift processes just to ensure there is some water to pump into the system.

Harare residents from places such as Mabvuku and Tafara have on several occasions suffered outbreaks of diarrhea and dysentery owing to the consumption of water from ZINWA coupled with the fact that these places experience persistent water shortages forcing them to fetch from unhealthy sources.

Minister of Water and Infrastructure Development Munacho Mutezo admitted that shortages of foreign currency are affecting the processes of water treatment because of the shortage of chemicals.

Former Harare mayor, MDC executive member Elias Mudzuri said the quality of water being processed by ZINWA has reached scandalous levels and is now a sure way

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