Home » Governance » Logic Behind Declaration of Water Shortage Areas

Although access to water is an indisputable human right, it is imperative for the public to appreciate the need to monitor and regulate water usage with the view to preserve water resources and ensure optimum use of the resource. Suffice to say that many communities in Zimbabwe, both rural and urban, have experienced water shortage at some point and while it is true that understanding of the problem has been poor, much has not been done to educate the public about this very critical topic.

Against this background, it is vital to understand that Section 61 of the Water Act (Chapter 20:24) recognises this important aspect as it empowers the minister responsible for the administration of the Water Act, acting on the recommendation of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), to make orders in relation to the abstraction, appropriation, control, diversion or use of any water.

Whenever abstraction of water from boreholes, wells or any other source has diminished and threatens ground water levels in any area, the minister can declare it a water shortage area paving the way for stringent monitoring of water usage.

The same can be done in an area where a public stream has ceased or the flow of water has diminished beyond the standard levels.

It is the Zimbabwe National Water Authority’s responsibility through catchment councils to determine priorities in the use of water in a water shortage area.

The regulation and control of water usage in a water shortage area can go as far as fixing a maximum volume of water which may be abstracted from any public stream, dam, storage tank or borehole.

Of note, the Water Act empowers ZINWA to investigate and control the abstraction and diversion of water in a declared water shortage area guided not by the motivation to deprive communities of water but by the desire to protect water resources.

Without implying that ordinary people should have no say over water resources.

There is need to understand and respect statutory instruments that seek to protect water resources by empowering responsible authorities to regulate water usage.

Depending on a number of factors, ZINWA as the responsible authority for water resources management can issue, amend or suspend water permits in an area that has been declared a water shortage area.

In the same way ZINWA controls utilisation of water from dams and public streams in a water shortage area, so does it restrict sinking, deepening or altering of boreholes and wells in order to prevent such common yet dangerous practices as over-abstraction.

While it is a known fact that the contribution of water resources such as dams, public streams, boreholes, weirs and storage tanks towards community development is immeasurable, appreciation of the logic behind declaration of water shortage areas has disappointingly been poor.

There is need to differentiate conventional management of water resources in an ordinary set-up from methodical regulation and stringent monitoring of water use which is usually done in a water shortage area.

The aim for declaring a water shortage area is not to deprive consumers of water be it for primary or domestic purposes.

Rather, it is a logical response to inevitable natural processes that is meant to pave the way for necessary interventions aimed at protecting water resources.

For more information please contact the ZINWA Corporate Communications and Marketing Department on pr@zinwa.co.zw or visit www.zinwa.co.zw. You can also like the Zimbabwe National Water Authority Facebook page.

Source : The Herald