Harare seeks alternative water purification chemicals

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THE City of Harare is searching for alternative water treatment chemicals in a bid to cut purification costs, which account for 52 percent of the municipality’s general expenses.
Chemicals used for water purification by Harare include powdered activated carbon, sulphuric acid, chlorine gas, sodium silicate, liquid ammonium sulphate, white hydrated lime and calcium hypochlorite.

In its 2021 budget proposal presented by the city’s finance and development committee chairperson, Tichaona Mhetu, Harare said it was in the process of identifying alternative chemicals in an effort to boost operations and improve service delivery.

This comes as Harare is struggling to meet its daily water demands amidst recurrent closure of its main plant at Morton Jaffray Waterworks due to shortages of purification chemicals.

“An analysis of recurrent expenditure shows that chemicals constitute 52 percent of the general expenses of the council, which is unsustainable. Recommendations are that the council finds alternative chemicals for water purification, combines with other local authorities and centrally procure common chemicals so that we benefit
from economies of scale,” Mhetu said.

“Council must have a fundraiser in the Revenue Collection Agency who is responsible for raising funds from international organisations. Your Worship, this has been lacking in council, we have opportunities to benefit from our engagements with the international community,” he said.

Mayor Jacob Mafume told the Daily News that they were currently considering numerous proposals on water treatment chemicals from different companies.

“There are many proposals and we have a number of people and companies coming through. Negotiations are still on-going. It is a long and laborious process that involves rigorous testing as the proposed chemicals have to
be checked to see if they are in line with required standards.

“So at the moment, we cannot divulge which chemicals are going to be used as that would be premature. This also has to be done in line with international standards of water treatment,” Mafume said.

Commenting on the current water shortages, Mafume said Harare was receiving chemicals from Zimphos to ensure that by today residents would be getting water.

“We have started pumping now and hopefully by Monday, water will be restored to levels that residents were previously getting. We will continue to further improve the situation,” he said.

The cash-strapped council attributed the current water challenges to shortages of aluminium sulphate, one of the major chemicals used to treat raw water.

The local authority said it was currently receiving a third of its daily aluminium sulphate requirements. “We are currently experiencing depressed water production and onward conveyance to customers owing to low stocks
of the major chemical aluminium sulphate. We are presently receiving only two loads of the chemical instead of six loads daily,” said the council in a recent statement.

As a result, the municipality, which is heavily indebted to the supplier, is only pumping 200 million litres of water
daily against average demand of around 340 million.

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