ZINWA defiant on water billing

October 29, 2021

RYAN CHIGOCHE

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) says it will not install charging devices on farms as water is billed on allocation rather than consumption, ZINWA Corporate Communications and Marketing Manager Marjorie Munyonga has said.

She was responding to demands by farmers to have  water meters.

Munyonga  said there was an agreement with farmers that water is not charged on consumption but on allocation according to the existing water agreement system used in Zimbabwe.

“At the beginning of the water year all people intending to draw water from ZINWA managed dams are required to lodge their applications for water with ZINWA,” Munyonga said.

She said: “ Upon the success of the application, the parties sign a water abstraction agreement which will detail the amount of water due to the user and the point at which the user will pick up his water allocation among other details.”

Once the agreement is signed, ZINWA sets aside the water allocation in the dam for the exclusive use of the agreement holder, who is then expected to pay for the full allocation regardless of whether the allocation is exhausted or not.

“At no point can anyone be charged or be asked to pay for water outside his/ her allocation. Because of the finite nature of water, this system is adopted to ensure the efficient allocation of water and to discourage water users from holding more water than they need,” Munyonga said.

In terms of the Water Act, the water user and not ZINWA, is mandated to procure at own cost, a water meter or any other acceptable measuring device for purposes of measuring water use, and the meter is an important component in ensuring that agreement holders stick to their allocations.

Chegutu based Resurge Farm owner, Percival Mazike, said  ZINWA was charging the barley producer about 8 megalitres per hectare while he consumes 5 megalitre per hectare.

Recently, the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Resettlement minister Anxious Masuka, gave ZINWA an ultimatum to install meters by the end of September.

But, ZINWA has ignored the ultimatum and continues to use estimates resulting farmers paying huge bills as ZINWA had not installed water charging devices at farms for irrigation and was relying on estimated usage.

In June this year ZINWA unpacked the Water Agreement System. Key changes  are that the water sector reforms brought was the replacement of water rights with water permits and water abstraction agreements.

This new system allows ZINWA to efficiently and sustainably allocate available water amongst competing uses through a water abstraction agreement which is a contract that any person, entity or organisation, who needs a reservation for their use of raw water from ZINWA managed or State-owned dams enters into with ZINWA for the provision of his or her requirements.

Water abstraction agreements allow ZINWA to effectively plan the allocation of limited water resources available in its storage reservoirs to meet the competing needs of water users.

The agreement forms the contract which spells out the obligations of ZINWA in supplying the raw water and that of the water user who pays for the services rendered.

According to the agreement the user is also expected to install, at his own cost, a meter or any other acceptable measuring device to measure his consumption and adherence to his allocation therefore explains why Resurge farms request or wish was not granted.

 

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