Depletion of wetlands blamed for bad raw water quality

The continued pollution of wetlands in Harare is largely responsible for bad raw water quality which has led the Harare City Council to consider hiking water charges due to increased purification costs.

Recharging point of wetland.

The remarks were made during a recent community meeting organized by the Harare Wetland Trust in Mabvuku.

The meeting is part of a broader campaign by the Trust which seeks to mobilize local communities to be actively involved in the protection of wetlands in their areas.

“The depletion of wetlands has greatly contributed to bad raw water quality in the Harare Metropolitan Province. As a result of the bad raw water quality, council now requires $2.5 million per month to meet purification costs and this creates a huge burden for residents.

“On one hand, council is faced with huge purification costs and they are also now sending debt collectors and issuing summons to defaulting residents,” said Hardlife Mudzingwa who is a Project Officer for the Harare Wetland Trust project.

Mudzingwa added that there was need to engage fertilizer companies that have set up demonstration plots on wetlands to halt their activities as they threaten the health of wetlands.

Urban agriculture is among the major threats to the survival of wetlands in Harare as it leads to disturbance of critical wetland soils and biodiversity, to pollution of water, especially through fertilizers and consequently creating huge purification costs for the Harare City Council.

“The solution lies in addressing the root causes to the problem and engaging fertilizer companies because they are the ones responsible, alongside cultivators themselves,  for the pollution of raw water through their demonstration plots sited at wetlands.” said Mudzingwa.

Other threats to wetlands in Harare include industrial and residential expansion projects which are often implemented without paying due regard to the need to preserve the important sources of water.

Zimbabwe is signatory to the Ramsar Convention on the protection of wetlands and the country has seven internationally recognized sites.

However, despite the country having enacted the Environmental Management Act, wetlands continue to be under threat as a result of illegal land occupations.

Currently, the East side of Monavale Vlei, which is an internationally recognized site, is under threat from invaders who have set up illegal structures at the wetland.

The Harare Wetland Trust is making frantic efforts to save Monavale Vlei from the invaders. The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and City of Harare have described the occupation of Monavale Vlei as illegal.

Post published in: Environment

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