Masvingo(Masvingo Star-New Ziana) -A weir that Minister of State in Vice President Kembo Mohadi’s Office, Davies Marapira constructed on his farm which is upstream of Mucheke River is being blamed for worsening pollution of the river, which feeds into Lake Mutirikwi, the city’s sole source of water.
Ward 5 councillor Daniel Mberikunashe told a recent full council meeting that the weir which constructed on his farm along the Masvingo-Bulawayo Road on the western outskirts of the city had stopped the perennial flow of Mucheke River as it meanders towards Lake Mutirikwi.
Mberikunashe said the weir had caused the development of pools of stagnant water filled with raw sewage flowing from burst sewer pipes in residential and industrial areas of the city.
A weir or low head dam is a barrier across the width of a river that alters the flow characteristics of water and usually results in a change in the height of the river level.
Weirs are commonly used to control the flow rates of rivers during periods of high discharge.
Sluice gates (or in some cases the height of the weir crest) can be altered to increase or decrease the volume of water flowing downstream.
“There is a dam blocking the water from flowing. When the water was flowing we did not have much of a problem,” said Mberikunashe.
He said water had stopped flowing in the hyacinth-choked river from the Chimusana Bridge downstream worsening the pollution as the water remained stagnant.
The problem did not exist before the blockage of the water flow by the weir as the water would carry the sewage downstream into Lake Mutirikwi.
Mberikunashe said in the past council could handle blockages along sewer lines in residential areas caused by solid matter that include household utensils and items of clothing as well as ore from Bikita Minerals used as scouring powder.
Mayor Collen Maboke urged the acting town clerk Edward Mukaratirwa to ascertain the situation at the weir and to engage the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) with a view to take the matter up with the courts.
Ward 1 councillor Selina Maridza said the pollution challenges were being compounded by illegal settlers in her ward who had vandalised a manhole in the area and urged city engineer Tawanda Gozo to raise awareness amongst residents in the area.
Chairperson of the Public Works and Planning Committee Tarusenga Vembo said that the blockages were not normal and could be acts of sabotage as council workers were encountering inorganic matter in the sewer such as pots, cups and dishes while the manholes were being systematically vandalised.
Gozo concurred, saying the level of vandalism was now worrisome as there was evidence that the manholes were first vandalised and foreign matter thrown into the sewer system with two manholes at the council offices having recently been vandalised.
Meanwhile, the meeting heard that at least 358 blockages had been attended to in September this year while 96 wheelbarrows of grit were removed from the channels and 61 bins of waste removed from the grit screens.