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Council discharges sewage into water sources, Court told

Council Discharges Sewage Into Water Sources, Court Told

30 August 2010

Harare – Harare City Council is reportedly releasing 2,02 million litres
(202 megalitres) of raw sewage daily into streams and rivers that feed into
its main water source.

This translates to 33 percent of water the council treats and pumps into its
reticulation system per day.

On an average day, the city’s water treatment plants have the capacity to
purify about 600 megalitres (600 million litres).

This was disclosed at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts last week when the
Environ-mental Management Agency dragged Harare City Council to court for
allegedly discharging sewage without a valid licence according to Section 57
of the Act as read with Section (5) (1) of Statutory Instrument 6 of 2007.

The city council is further accused of obstructing or hindering the
watchdog’s inspector from investigating city operations at the plant
according to Section 137 of the Environmental Management Act Chapter 20:27.

A further charge arises for the city’s alleged failure failing to deal with
both effluent and solid waste in its suburbs.

Magistrate Mr Never Katiyo heard the case while Mr Editor Mavuto prosecuted.

Presenting evidence in court last Tuesday, EMA’s environmental quality
officer, Ms Tapiwa Munezvenyu, said on February 8 this year she was tasked
to investigate a sewage discharge emanating from Firle sewer plant after a
tip-off from the public.

Two days later, a team from EMA was allowed to enter the plant on condition
they left their cameras behind.

The source of the discharge was traced to a manhole within the treatment
works, she told the court.

The City Council was issued with two tickets, whose amounts were not
disclosed, and ordered to rectify the problem.

According to Ms Munezvenyu, this was never done.

City spokesperson Mr Leslie Gwindi last Friday confirmed council purified at
least 600 megalitres of water, but declined to go into details on the
situation at Firle sewage treatment plant, arguing the matter sub judice.

“We are going to take you guys (media) on a tour of the treatment (sewage)
next week,” said Mr Gwindi.

City director of water and sanitation Engineer Christopher Zvobgo confirmed
the city had eight sewage treatment plants but only Firle and Crowborough
were in sound working condition.

“Of the eight sewer treatment plants only Firle and Crowborough are working
and they are producing 144 megalitres and 58 megalitres respectively,” said
Eng Zvobgo.

He also declined to respond to EMA’s claims, arguing the matter was still
before the courts.

Earlier this year, EMA made an urgent chamber application to the High Court
for council to stop discharging raw sewage into rivers and streams around
the capital.

The High Court, however, ruled that the application was not urgent,
prompting the environmental watchdog to approach the magistrates’ courts.

At a fire awareness campaign in Mt Darwin recently, Environment and Natural
Resources Minister, Francis Nhema called for the creation of an
Administrative Environmental Court to deal with such agent matters.

“If people continue to deposit raw sewage into our sources of drinking water
and the courts are saying it’s not urgent when people are risking their
lives, we have to lobby for special courts to deal with these matters,”
Minister Nhema said.

Last month, environmentalists warned of a new cholera outbreak in urban
centres as local authorities were discharging raw sewage into sources of
drinking water.


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