Contaminated water in Zimbabwe’s capital puts millions at risk

A study has found that water being pumped to millions of residents in Harare came from reservoirs contaminated by dangerous toxins that can cause liver and central nervous system complications.

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Contaminated water in Zimbabwe

Millions of residents in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, are at risk of developing serious health problems from city’s contaminated water – a report has stated.

A study conducted by South African company Nanotech Water Solutions concluded that water being pumped to millions of residents in Harare came from reservoirs contaminated by dangerous toxins that can cause liver and central nervous system complications.

The toxins, as stated in the report,  are emanating from the algae found in Harare’s major water reservoirs putting the health of 3 million residents at risk, and the foul smell and brownish colour of water in the city are associated with a plethora of algal species.

The explosive report has prompted the Zimbabwean government to declare the situation a national security crisis.

The Harare city council has failed to flush out the poisonous substances despite spending US$3 million every month on the importation of up to eight water treatment chemicals.

The report stated that the eight chemicals used by council for purification cannot eliminate two of the deadly toxins found in the water namely; hepatotoxins and neurotoxins.

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Hepatotoxins are substances toxic to the liver, while neurotoxins are substances that damage, destroy, or impair the functioning of the central and/or peripheral nervous system.

NanoTech carried out the tests after being invited by the council.

The tests encompassed various areas including the efficacy of chlorine dioxide, maximum plant utilisation, aesthetic quality of potable water and the bacteriological safety of potable water distributed to consumers.

NanoTech stated that the primary objective of the trial was to demonstrate the oxidative capacity of chlorine dioxide on the plant’s incoming and inherent algae in the plant and its associated toxins, pathogenic (disease-causing) micro-organisms and other micro-contaminants).

The study, according to NanoTech, helped understand the situation and what was required to improve the plant though put along with the quality of water being supplied by the plant.

Harare has been struggling to provide water to its three million residents, giving rise to cholera and typhoid outbreaks as people turn to unsafe water sources.