Francistown residents were last week treated to a rude awakening when Water Utilities Corporation issued a stern warning to the public to use water sparingly as the corporation was facing technical problems at their water treatment plant.
In a bid to reduce water consumption, WUC has been cutting water supplies to some areas in Francistown in the evenings.
Industries and sectors like the Botswana Meat Commission, hotels and hospitals, which cannot operate continuously without water, were spared.
They have, however, been urged to establish water management systems.
This statement followed a shock water supply cut off early this week that left Francistowners wondering what had happened to the abundant water at the reliable Shashe Dam. WUC said the erratic supplies would run for the next six months.
WUC Distribution Manager, Gothusang Kehuparetse told Sunday Standard on Friday that though the water shortage was a result of numerous factors, the major problem was the obsolete machinery that is used at the water treatment plant in Shashe Dam.
Kehuparetse said that the water treatment machinery at Francistown Area L and the Shashe Dam plant were supposed to have been replaced or upgraded in 2002, especially looking at the plants’ high output levels, but the project was shelved until 2004.
For the last two years WUC has been battling with near obsolete treatment machinery that was not operating at full capacity and therefore not producing enough output in the face of increasing demands brought by the escalating growth of the city and water shortage in surrounding villages.
Hardly a month ago, water storage facilities at the Shashe water treatment plant developed algae deposits that changed the texture of the water, thus calling for a different technical approach in the purification process.
Because of the obsolete status of the treatment plant in Shashe Dam, WUC had to rely on the smaller Area L plant which was upgraded last year.
But a series of power cuts, caused by the unreliable operations of the Botswana Power Corporation in the area, and the subsequent failure of the standby generator compelled WUC to dig deep into their water reserves to supply water to the city.
Kehuparetse also revealed that villages like Masunga, Mathangwane, Matshelagabedi and Tati Siding, which have been experiencing water shortages due to dry boreholes, are collecting water from Shashe Dam using bowsers.
These villages are not in the supply mandate of the city and they were only relieved because they are going through a rough patch in as far as their water needs are concerned.
“We hope to be relieved of these extra supplies when Ntimbale Dam is completed,” said Kehuparetse.
With one plant operating under capacity because of obsolete equipment, WUC has been left with little option but to warn the public of the impending water shortage catastrophe and to caution them to use water responsibly.
In a bid to reduce water consumption, WUC has been cutting water supplies to some areas in Francistown in the evenings. Though some areas and business operations like BMC, hotels and hospitals, which are deemed to be continuously in need of water were spared, they were consulted and urged to establish water management systems.