City of Harare shuts down water treatment plant as dwindling supplies worsen perennial water shortages


HARARE – City of Harare has been forced to shut down its Prince Edward Water Treatment Plant near Chitungwiza due to a critical shortage of raw water in two key supply dams, Harava and Seke. The closure of the treatment plant, announced in a water update by the local authority on Tuesday, has intensified the chronic water crisis gripping the city.

Harare water problems and Crisis - Prince Edward water treatment plant shut down
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Harare relies on two water treatment works: Morton Jaffray, situated below Lake Chivero, and Prince Edward near Chitungwiza.

However, Morton Jaffray, the larger facility with a daily capacity of 600 million liters, falls short of meeting the city's demand of 1,200 million liters. It draws water from Lake Chivero and Lake Manyame, while Prince Edward sources its water from Harava and Seke Dams, contributing an additional 70 million liters per day.

The decision to close the Prince Edward Treatment Plant was made on Saturday after the raw water levels in both supply dams dropped to alarming lows.

“The two dams are at 13.7 percent (≈ 925 ML) and 13.5 percent (≈ 516 ML) full, and as a result the water level in Seke is now below the abstraction level.

“Although the upstream dams of Dema 1 and Dema 2 were opened on 21/11/23, no significant inflows have been recorded,” City of Harare said.

The closure of the Prince Edward Treatment Plant has had a severe impact on numerous southern suburbs, including Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Cranborne, Hatfield, parts of Chitungwiza, Mbare, Sunningdale, and Graniteside. 

“However, some supplies are being received from Morton Jeffrey (water treatment plant) through the inter – connector at George Road and Seke Road,” said City of Harare.

While certain southwestern suburbs, such as Glen Norah, Glen View, Kuwadzana, and Rydle Ridge, saw their water supplies restored on Monday morning, other areas continue to suffer. 

“Budiriro and surroundings is not accessing water, with supplies expected to be restored on Thursday,” the city council said. 

In the northwestern suburbs, including Tynwald, Bloomingdale, and Dzivaresekwa, water services have been maintained. 

However, the northern suburbs, encompassing Hatcliffe, Borrowdale, Mt. Pleasant, Hogerty Hill, Helensvale, Vainona, and Highlands, are still without water. 

Some areas directly supplied from Alex reservoirs, such as Groombridge, Gunhill, and New Alex, have started receiving water.

The local authority said that the central business district (CBD) and most surrounding areas are accessing water, and that eastern suburbs received water between Sunday and Monday.

“The eastern suburbs including Greendale, Glen Lorne, Mandara, Mabvuku, Tafara, Zimre Park, Ventersburg and Epworth received water between Sunday and yesterday,” the city council added. 

The closure of the Prince Edward Treatment Plant comes at a critical time, as Zimbabwe is yet to receive significant summer rains. The water situation in Harare is expected to further deteriorate, heightening the risk of a worsening crisis.

City of Harare has been grappling with water problems of varying severity for the past fifteen years. Recurrent shortages of treatment chemicals, frequent plant breakdowns, and power cuts have been cited as the primary causes of this crisis.

Suburbs like Mabvuku and Tafara have endured years without a reliable water supply, while many parts of Chitungwiza have been subjected to weeks without water. 

These dire conditions have perpetuated the outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera, which the local authority is currently struggling to contain.

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