Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) and Department of Water Affairs (DWA) are refusing to disclose the names of rich farmers who have built 200 illegal dams along Notwane river and other mainstreams blocking the flow of water into the Gaborone dam. A study by WUC and University of Botswana Faculty of Engineering has revealed that the damming has disrupted the flow into Gaborone Dam, resulting in unprecedented low level which has forced the corporation to start rationing water.
The study is understood to have revealed the names of the culprits who are believed to be connected to powerful political interests. Both Water Utilities Corporation and Department of Water Affairs admitted this week that the 200 dams that have been built in private properties in the catchment of Gaborone dam hinder the flow of water into the dam. Initially the water crisis was blamed on poor rains, but when quizzed recently WUC and DWA admitted that the damming of the mainstream had resulted in water not reaching the dam. WUC has however absolved itself from blame, insisting that that it was not their responsibility to issue permits for people to built dams as their only mandate was to ensure that water reaches the people. DWA on the other hand also washed its hands saying they were not responsible for authorising the construction of dams but issued water rights only.
Water level in Gaborone dam have been declining resulting in shortage of water in greater Gaborone forcing WUC to ration water in a bid to address the shortage. WUC Infrastructure director, Gaselemogwe Senai has admitted that the 200 dams in the mainstream that flows into the dam have affected the water that flows into the dam. Senai says that a study has shown that the water levels have been drastically reduced because of the dams that been built in the Gaborone dam catchment area. He however said that a report of the study could not be shared with the public because it was not agreed that such report could be shared to the public when it was commissioned.
He said that the study has shown that 30 % of water that used to flow into the dam no longer feeds the dam because of the 200 dams built in the catchment area.
Quizzed on whether such dams should not be demolished in the best interest of the Gaborone public, Senai stated that another study should be conducted to see if indeed such dams could be destroyed if they deter the flow of water into the dam. He said that the dams in the past helped to trap sedimentation.
The Department of Meteorological Services also expressed their disappointment that Gaborone dam continue to dry despite recent rains. Most of the dams have been built in private land belonging to rich families in the Gaborone dam catchment areas. Department of Water Affairs, Director Dr Obolukile Obakeng says the permission to construct the dams may have been issued by land boards. He says they are currently collecting satellite images that will inform them whether there are individuals collecting water in dams without water rights.