Southern Region Water Board (SRWB) has written Thyolo and Nsanje district health offices (DHOs) asking them to stop using water from boreholes they drilled on the basis that the law restricts them.
According to letters dated August 17 2021 signed by SRWB acting chief executive officer Duncan Chambamba, the public hospitals have since been given a 45-day ultimatum to stop using the borehole water.
Reads the letter in part: “We have observed that you stopped using clean and potable water from Southern Region Water Board as you are using your own abstracted water.
“You are hereby informed that the law does not allow you to supply water for any use within the board’s water areas through either boreholes or any other sources and means as no consent was ever sought and granted by the board.”
The letters state that if the public hospitals will not go back to the SRWB within the 45-day period, the board will be forced to seal their water supply systems.
In a written response yesterday, SRWB spokesperson Rita Makwangwala confirmed that the board sent the letters, adding that it applies to those within their supply area.
She said: “We have written to the hospitals that are within our supply area.”
But in a telephone interview, Thyolo DHO spokesperson Fanuel Makina said the decision to stop Thyolo District Hospital from using the borehole water was hurriedly done since the board does not supply them with water all the time.
He said: “Considering that the supply at times is just two or three times a week for less than an hour, we opted for an alternative means to source water.
“So, maybe, they [SRWB] should assure us that we will have a steady water supply with no interruptions.”
Makina, however, said they will have to discuss with the district council on the way forward since the letters state that they are contravening the law.
In a separate interview, Nsanje DHO spokesperson George Mbotwa also said they will have to discuss the way forward with relevant authorities.
“It’s true that we have the borehole but then the water we are supplied with is not consistent. At times we run out of water so we need a backup supply system,” he said.
Section 19 of the Waterworks Act (1995) states that the board shall provide a supply of potable water sufficient for the domestic purposes of the inhabitants within the water supply area.
In recent years, public hospitals have at times been running without water supplied by the country’s water boards due to a number of reasons, among others, supply failures and accumulated debts leading to disconnections.