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Inconsistent rainfall has of late been a common feature of the Zimbabwean climate and gradually the country’s agricultural sector, which is the mainstay of the economy, is becoming more reliant on dams as an alternative water source.

Evidently, it is impossible to envisage meaningful socio-economic development while ignoring management of water resources particularly dams and thankfully, matters relating to construction, registration, monitoring and management of dams are clearly spelt out in the Water Act (Chapter 20:24).

Among other things, the Act empowers the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to superintend, on Government’s behalf, over the general management and utilisation of water resources in the country with the aim of ensuring that both primary and secondary water needs are met.

However, it is unrealistic to talk about meeting water needs without seriously thinking about and properly plan for the maintenance and monitoring of dams and other water bodies which provide water for agricultural, domestic and commercial purposes.

The fact that the agricultural sector is the heart beat of national economic emancipation is a public secret and given the unpredictable nature of the climate, dams are now playing a more pivotal role further underlining their economic value.

However, it is important to recall that dam construction, maintenance and management is a capital intensive exercise and ZINWA’s capacity to play this important role as provided for in the Water Act is subject to being in a sound financial position.

In order to fully realise the undoubted economic value of dams and other water bodies, it is imperative to highlight that, just like any other valuable resource, dams need to be properly managed.

Therefore, irrigating farmers and other water users are encouraged to honour their water dues so as to strengthen ZINWA’s ability to optimally manage the country’s water resources.

Sadly, despite the apparent fact that ZINWA continues to play an integral role in the construction and maintenance of dams, a substantial number of irrigating farmers and other raw water users continue to use water without permits while some refuse to pay misguidedly arguing that since water is a natural resource, there is no obligation whatsoever to pay for it.

Farmers and other raw water users are encouraged to approach relevant Catchment Councils and acquire water permits as required by law. With memories of the Tokwe-Mukosi flooding disaster last year still lingering in the minds of many, surely as a nation, we have to do more than paying lip service to the importance of taking proper care of our water resources and there is no better way of doing that than paying water bills.

As indicated above, water bodies are important national resources with tremendous economic value and the Authority implores all stakeholders in the water sector to play their part in promoting high standards especially in the construction, utilisation and management of dams.

Needless to say, the economic value of dams is further underlined by the fact that besides being the source of irrigation water, ZINWA and local authorities draw raw water from dams for treatment.

In other words, if water bodies such as dams are not properly taken care of, there will be a greater risk of water shortage in cities, towns and growth points a situation that could also breed diseases.

Source : The Herald