The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) is a wholly Government owned entity tasked with managing the country’s water resources. The Authority falls under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Climate and it was established in 2000 following the promulgation of the Zinwa Act and the Water Act.
The functions of the Authority are spelt out in Section 5 of the Zinwa Act as:
- Providing water to the nation in a cost effective manner
- Ensuring the equitable accessibility and efficient use of water resources
- Minimising the impact of floods and droughts
- Assisting catchment councils in their functions
- Providing technical assistance, training consultancy on a cost recovery basis.
- Operating and maintaining water works in order to provide water in bulk to local Authorities and reticulated water o consumers on behalf of local authorities who lack the capacity to provide the service.
- Undertaking research, developing databases and producing maps.
- Promoting co-operative management of internationally shared water courses.
- Advising on water policy and national standards on: water resources planning, management and development , dam safety, hydrology and hydrogeology, water pricing and policy
A water abstraction agreement is a contract that any person, entity or organisation that needs a reservation for their use of raw water from Zinwa managed or State dams enters into with Zinwa for the provision of his or her water requirements
Water abstraction agreements allow ZINWA to affectively plan the allocation of limited water resources available in its storage reservoirs to meet the competing needs of water users. The agreements forms the contract which spells the obligations of ZINWA in supplying the raw water and that of the water user who pays for the services rendered
In terms of the Water Act, anyone using raw water for purposes of other than primary purposes should have a water abstraction agreement. This includes irrigating farmers, mines, local Authorities, agricultural estates and industries. In addition, Statutory Instrument 206 of 2001 compels everyone using water from Zinwa managed dams to have an agreement when it says;
“No surface water permit shall be required of a person who wishes to abstract surface water from a water storage works vested in the State or the National Water Authority for any purpose mentioned in paragraph (a), but such person must enter into an abstraction agreement with the National Water Authority in terms of subsection (6) of section 39of the Act.
Any person wishing to use water from Zinwa managed or State dams should approach the respective ZINWA Catchment office from which they would want to abstract water and lodge an application for water stating the intended use of the water, their physical address, the amount of water required, point of abstraction and crop intended for irrigation in the case of farmers. If Zinwa, after considering the application is satisfied that there is enough water in their dams to meet the applicant’s needs, the two parties will then enter into a water abstraction agreement.
Once a water abstraction agreement is entered into, ZINWA will reserve the full allocation as requested by the user in its dams and releases the water as per the water user’s water orders from time to time until the full allocation is exhausted. The agreement holder becomes exclusively entitled to the allocation specified in the agreement which they are assured to get and the water cannot be released to any other water user. 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. Farmers wishing to abstract water from ZINWA managed dams are encouraged to work closely with their extension officers or other people with appropriate expertise to help them fully appreciate the water requirements for different crops. This helps them in coming up with proper water requirements when applying for agreements
Agreement holders are expected to pay for their water allocation in monthly instalments during the subsistence of the agreement. However in the case of farmers and other users who get their money at the end of a particular season or production process Stop Order arrangements can be made so that the bills can be settled during that period. Water users may choose to pay the full sum of their allocation at the onset of the agreement especially where smaller volumes of water are concerned.
The relationship of Zinwa and Local Authorities, we supply raw water to Local Authorities, we also supply bulk treated water to some Local Authorities then they supply to the residents
Is it necessary to have a separate water management authority when that function can easily be carried out by local authorities who are widely believed to be more answerable to residents?
Zinwa supply water to the Authorities that do not have the capacity to run their water supply services only places like Karoi, Murombedzi and Mvurwi. Harare and Bulawayo have the capacity they do their water supply services to their residents, we only supply them with raw water.
Where the local Authority is said to have the capacity to treat and reticulate water to consumers; why is ZINWA not playing a supervisory role given that it is the overall water authority in the country?
Zinwa’s regulation of groundwater resources is part of it mandate to assist the Minister in the management planning and development of the country’s water resources. If you check the water Act of 1998, section 6(1) (General functions of the Minister) some of the Minister’s functions are stated as being “to develop policies to guide the orderly and integrated planning of the optimum development utilisation and protection of the Country’s water resources in the national interest. Zinwa regulates groundwater to ensure the Minister knows what’s going on with regards groundwater resources, which is quite delicate and need lots of expertise to monitor and even correct anomalies that might arise from time to time in the sector
Boreholes should be registered for a fee to enable Sub catchment Councils to sustain the field operations of physically visiting borehole owners in their areas to check and monitor if the owners are using the borehole water for the purposes declared in the borehole registration forms. This helps ensure that the information collected by the Sub catchment councils during the borehole registration process info which will be passed on to Zinwa and to the Minister, does not get distorted. For instance one might register their borehole for domestic consumption but use the water for bulk water trading, the amount of water being abstracted will be more than what will be in the data base, to avoid that mismatch Sub catchment council offices have to visit borehole owners once every quarter to monitor the actual water usage from drilled boreholes and to enforce compliance hence the borehole registration fee which is a once off payment.
Zinwa is not responsible for regulating the operations of private drillers in Zimbabwe. Zinwa once got an instruction to register drillers in Zimbabwe but has long stopped doing so in 2013 as it has no legal stand on to resist other drillers when it is also one of the drillers. So Zinwa is not responsible for regulating the operations of private drillers in Zimbabwe. Currently there is no law that gives Zinwa such powers.