The Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) has said should human activities along Lilongwe River, which are leading to deterioration of water quality continue, they will be forced to decommission its water plant.
In an interview, LWB Chief Executive Officer, Alfonso Chikuni, said the parameters for which the board’s treatment plant was designed, did not foresee the problem they have faced in the past three years.
He, however, said it is a problem which requires a number of stakeholders to discuss solutions.
“To bring all the stakeholders together, it has always been a very big challenge to Lilongwe Water Board. But we hope that in the near future, the land can be brought back to its use, and the forest area. But for now, if the occupation and the livelihood activities in the area are increased in the future, then we will have to decommission the plant,” Chikuni said.
He, however, said the board is currently doing all it can to make sure that the water it is supplying is suitable for human consumption.
“Because of livelihood activities between our intake point and somewhere in Chigwirizano, it has come to the extent that the water that we are treating is very bad. It is taking a lot of effort for us to clean it so that it could be good for consumption.
“Ostensibly, we have reduced in the output on the production because the detention time has to take longer than what it was designed for,” Chikuni said.
Recently, Chikuni told the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament that because of the poor quality of the water, the board is spending a lot of time treating it.
At a recent public talk on water situation in the city organised by Malawi Institute of Engineers, Central Region Chapter, Chikuni said the immediate solution to the current water problems affecting the city is the Salima-Lilongwe Water Project.
He said even though the current $500 million contract with Khato Civils is stopped, chances are high that they will go back to the project.
“What we said was that time is of essence. If we needed to catch up with time in the immediate 18 months or so then Lake Malawi offers the solution. Others sources require a lot of time, especially that they would require some resettlement aspects, like the Diamphwe,” he said
The Salima- Lilongwe Water Project has courted controversy especially on how the contract was awarded to Khato.
Malawi Institute of Engineers president, David Mzandu, said prior to the commencement of the project there is need to clear all concerns.
“I think we have a problem as a city. This is one option available to us to draw water from the Lake Malawi. Of course, it goes with huge amounts of investment required to draw water from the lake to the city. There are other options which are being looked at but they seem not to be feasible. From our point of view, it is possible to get water from the lake,” he said.
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