Forget about what you see and smell, says EMA

…as it endorses Mucheke, Shakashe rivers water quality

Upenyu Chaota

MASVINGO – Despite what the eyes may see or the nose may smell, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) says it is happy with the quality of water in Mucheke and Shakashe rivers.

This is despite a recent report by the Auditor General (AG) Mildred Chiri which decries the flow of raw sewage into the water bodies.

The report names City of Masvingo as responsible for the pollution of Mucheke River partly due to break-downs at the Rujeko Sewage Pump Station.

EMA, however, says quality tests conducted on waters from both rivers on monthly basis show that pollution was minimal.

Family and Friends for Rivers and Lakes in Zimbabwe (FAFORALIZ) coordinator Pianos Chadya accused EMA of trying to sanitise the pollution which he said was killing Mucheke and Shakashe Rivers.

“EMA may say otherwise but the truth of the matter is that Mucheke and Shakashe are heavily-polluted. They may give us technical answers but it would not need a rocket scientist to tell us that the rivers are heavily polluted.

“Shakashe River used to be the better of the two but it is now being polluted by sewage from Lee’s Inn hotel. Council is quiet about the Lee’s Inn sewer because they are complicit in that they allowed the hotel to be built irregularly,” said Chadya.

City of Masvingo Town Clerk Engineer Edward Mukaratirwa promised to do an investigation on the pollution of Shakashe River and give EnviroPress feedback but he had not reported back by the time of publishing.

In the report, EMA claims that it regularly monitors water quality in the two rivers to ascertain its quality.

“One of the most important key result area for EMA is ambient water quality monitoring and analysis for all environmental water including that in rivers and dams in Masvingo province.

“Water samples are collected for analysis on a monthly basis within the first seven days of each month, so as to ascertain the level or quality of water pollution in a water body if any.

“In Masvingo City, the water quality for Mucheke River and Shakashe River is also subjected to this regular analysis for pollutants,” reads part of the a report released recently by EMA.

The environmental watchdog says sampling points for Mucheke are at Brick and Tile (ER 31) which acts as the control sampling point before the water gets into the city.

The next sampling point is at the bridge near Craft Centre (ER1) and the sample is to give a reflection of the water pollutants that may emanate from residential and industrial activities within the city, if any.

The other monitoring points which are sampled within the vicinity of the city along Shakashe River are ER 2 (Near SPCA) and ER 3 (near Masvingo Teachers College).

“Our analytical results of Mucheke River water quality for the past 9 months reveal that Mucheke River had high concentrations of manganese, iron and phosphates.

“The high concentration of manganese and iron are probably due to natural factors as these minerals occur naturally. The higher levels of iron in a water body are usually indicated by the black or brownish-black or reddish-brown colour of the water.

“The high levels of phosphates have caused the low concentrations of Dissolved Oxygen in Mucheke River.

“The possible sources of phosphates are high concentrations of organic pollutants that may come from industrial effluent and sewage effluent from sewer bursts that are not reported and attended to timeously. On average, the band classes for the 2 Rivers is the Green Band Class (Low Environmental Hazard),” said EMA.

EMA has issued City of Masvingo an Environmental Protection Order to timeously attend to sewer bursts and finish up the refurbishment of Rujeko Pump Station so that environmental pollution is abated.

To control the quality of industrial effluent discharged, EMA and City of Masvingo have obligated companies that discharge effluent to put in place pre-treatment facilities before discharging into the municipal sewer line for further treatment.

“EMA has strengthened the law enforcement arm of Masvingo City Council through the establishment of an Environmental Inspectorate Unit (EIU).

“The pilot project has started with Masvingo City Council. EMA has trained their 35 officers and has handed over 3 motorcycles to complement their duties, chief among environmental monitoring inspections and law enforcement,” said EMA.