‘Many Harare boreholes unsafe’

Tariro Charandura —
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority has begun countrywide borehole water testing, with preliminary indications confirming contamination in some Harare suburbs.

In February 2017, Zimlabs established that boreholes in several suburbs in the capital city contained disease-causing Escherichia coli bacteria related to faecal matter.

This prompted Zinwa to start countrywide borehole water analyses.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, Zinwa communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said, “The exercise involved testing borehole water from private boreholes, institutional boreholes, communal boreholes and those boreholes used as sources of bulk water. The assessment involved testing of groundwater.

“Following the conclusion of the exercise in Harare, it was noted that chances of water quality failure or contamination are highly likely in places observed to have the following features: septic tanks, composts and or dump sites, boreholes constructed on wetlands, use of fertiliser and compost on lawns or gardens and leaking sewer conveyance pipes.”

Mrs Munyonga also said, “The assessment involved testing groundwater in the capital using a variety of parameters such as PH, turbidity, nitrates, phosphates, conductivity, sulphates, dissolved oxygen, salinity, coli forms and E coli. Zinwa, therefore, strongly advises borehole owners to ensure their water is tested and declared safe by competent people or institutions before being used for drinking purposes.

“If any pollutants are dictated in the groundwater, owners of boreholes are advised to seek expert advice for the treatment of the water before consumption. Poor drilling standards were also observed in some of the boreholes that did not meet drinking water quality standards.

“Some boreholes were drilled with casings that are perforated from a shallow depth which result in infiltration of dirty surface water into the boreholes.”

Harare has over the years been grappling with inconsistent potable water supplies, forcing many residents and businesses to turn to boreholes.

Recently, a resident of Harare’s Hatcliffe suburb and another in Epworth succumbed to typhoid linked to contaminated borehole water.

Harare City Council Health Services director Dr Prosper Chonzi said then, “We suspect that they were drinking water from a borehole. Four of the seven boreholes in the vicinity have bacterial growth. The Hatcliffe water situation is quite dire, especially in the new settlements around Glen Forest.”

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