Govt, committee clash on water contamination

Misunderstanding has surfaced between the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change and the Department of Environment and Climate Change Management over alleged contamination of water in Shire River.

This follows the department’s declaration that following water quality tests there is no deposition of raw waste water into Shire River by Hippo View and Shire Lodges in Liwonde as earlier claimed by the committee.

Chilenga: Thousands at risk

The committee’s chairperson Werani Chilenga told Nation Online early this month that thousands of people in Southern Region were in danger following findings of alleged sewage disposal by the two lodges into the Shire River.

But the Department of Environment and Climate Change in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining said following analysis of the water by chemists the water was safe for consumption as there was no sewage as claimed.

The department’s spokesperson Sangwani Phiri said chemists from the central water laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water development carried out on-spot water quality tests that show no contamination from the lodges.

“There were three samples collected by chemists and the results revealed that there was no any form of contamination of water in the Shire River.

“The first sample was collected at Hippo View Lodge, the second at Shire Lodge and the third at Liwonde Barrage where SRWB [Southern Region Water Board] pumps its water for distribution to the people,” explained Phiri.

He said according to Malawian standards in terms of water quality MS 669 of 2005, any water below 20 milligrams per litre with waste matter in it was safe for human consumption and results for all the three samples registered below 20 milligrams.

He, however, said according to the experts the only problem with the lodges was the substandard septic tanks and soakaways where they deposit waste matter. The department has since ordered them to construct better ones approved by government.

However, in a separate interview, Chilenga said they suspected foul play and insisted that his committee did not accept the department’s test results.

“We still stand by the fact that the lodges are polluting the water in the river. They are discharging sewage into the river and until a report by Malawi Bureau of Standards [MBS] is issued in as far as we are concerned the lodges are a health hazard to the community,” he said.

But Abdul Munaf, director of the two lodges, accused Chilenga and his committee of wanting to gain political mileage out of his business; hence, the insistence that the lodges are contaminating water.

“Three different institutions have been there and analysed the water and have cleared us of any wrong doing. Why should it be only them? If they are saying these have failed let them bring experts who they feel can do a better job to prove there is contamination of water,” said Munaf.

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