Heavy rains that recently claimed seven lives in Mzuzu City have rescued Northern Region Water Board (NRWB) and city residents as the drying Lunyagwa Dam has been filled to capacity.
Early this year, NRWB feared that Mzuzu City could be heading for a severe water crisis as the rainfall pattern appeared erratic hence the dam was drying up.
As one way of controlling the situation, NRWB embarked on a campaign to encourage residents conserve water.
NRWB spokesperson Edward Nyirenda said in an interview on Tuesday the current water level is enough to supply water in the city up to December this year, unlike the level before the rains which was only enough for four months.
He said: “At its maximum capacity of 4.3 million cubic metres, the dam should be able to supply the city for the next seven and a half months.
“With the supplement from other sources, we are hopeful we will still be able to supply the city till the next rainy season.”
However, Nyirenda said the board still needs a new dam to meet the growing demand for water in the city as the current capacity was designed for the 2005 population.
He said: “We are now 11 years in injury time. We are surviving because of the short-term measures we have put in place. We need financing for the detailed designs and construction of a new dam to cost around $150 million [about K105 billion] at Lambilambi.”
Mzuzu City mayor William Mkandawire said the filling up of the dam is good news to the city as residents were affected by shortage of water last year.
“We don’t expect them to ration water this year. However, people should continue to conserve water because it saves on costs but also eases pressure on the board so that it supplies water efficiently,” said Mkandawire.
Lunyangwa Dam is NRWB’s sole reservoir for water supply to Mzuzu City.