A fact-finding mission by Highlands residents and council officials has shown that there is no physical limitation to pumping water to the Highlands reservoirs and the lack of water in the suburb is due to the allocation system by the City of Harare.
On Tuesday last week, Harare Mayor Ian Makone, Ward 7 Councillor Rose Muronda, water and sewer superintendent for Highlands Mr Felix Marodza and the Highlands Residents Working Group representatives Mr Nick de Swardt, Mr Tim Johnson and Engineer Peter Morris visited the Orange Grove Water Pump Station on a fact-finding mission on the water problems in Highlands.
In a report of the visit, Eng Morris said the lack of municipal water from the Highlands Reservoirs was a result of allocation by council authorities because there is no limitation to pumping water to residents’ houses from the reservoirs.
“We were told that there is no physical limitation to pumping from Orange Grove outside of load-shedding periods. There are no electrical faults, and the pumps are functional,” said Eng Morris.
He said the city cannot purify water at full capacity at its treatment plants at Morton Jaffray and Prince Edward because it cannot afford to buy the chemicals forcing the council to supply water on a rotational basis.
“Half of the Highlands Reservoirs have been decommissioned. It took two to three days of pumping to fill the active reservoirs after which the outlets were opened. Unless the reservoirs are full, not all of the service area receives water. When cholera broke out in the western suburbs in July, the municipality prioritised water supply to these areas and stopped supplying the north eastern suburbs. Nevertheless, water from Alexandra Park is still supplying Mount Pleasant, Hatcliffe and Hoggerty Hill,” reads Eng Morris’ report.
He said members of the Highlands Working Group made strong representations that Highlands appears to be the only suburb that receives no water and for equity, the city should ensure that water is supplied at least once a month and preferably twice a month.
The Highlands area is supplied with municipal water from the Highlands reservoirs located above the ZBC Pockets Hill Studios. The Highlands reservoirs receive water from the Orange Grove Pump Station, which is supplied by gravity from the Alexandra Park reservoirs located in the Botanical Gardens, the report said.
“The pump station is supplied through twin 400 mm diameter pipes that discharge into a small balancing tank. The pipes are equipped with float-operated valves to stop the inflow of water when the tank is full. Incoming power is supplied through a buried 11 kV cable.
‘‘The pump station building includes an electrical substation with a transformer. Metering is through a post-paid meter and we were told that the City is up to date with its payments for electricity at Orange Grove.”
Eng Morris’ report also touched on the condition of the Orange Grove Water Pump Station saying there is a need to replace valves to prevent water wastage.
“The float valves on the tank inlet pipes serve the same function as a ball valve in a toilet cistern, they ensure that inflow to the tank stops when it is full. We were told that they are not working and when there is a power cut during operation of the pumps, water overflows. While this condition does not prevent use of the pump station, there is wastage of water when the pump station is in operation. The valves need to be overhauled or replaced.
‘‘Until this happens, wastage can be prevented if there is an attendant at the pump station who can close the incoming gate valves when the tank overflows,” said Eng Morris.
He said the switch room in the substation is in poor condition.
“There are two 11kV isolators. Number 1 feeds the pump station and appeared to be in reasonable condition.
‘‘Number 2 feeds the local reticulation and was leaking a tarry substance from the cable gland under it. The outgoing MV board was in bad condition. The station is at risk if there is an electrical fire. The pump room was locked and not accessible. The grounds were overgrown with grass that hid holes in the ground which was a hazard. The grass needs to be slashed.”