BWB to construct new water intake 4kms from Walkers Ferry at the Shire River

Mia visits site of the proposed new intake

* As Water & Sanitation Minister, Abida Mia commends the Board for efforts in improving water supply

* I want to encourage Blantyre Water Board to maximize usage of the Mudi Dam to increase water supply system

* The Board will set up a solar power generation plant as it spends up to K1.2 billion every month to pay ESCOM

By Yamikani Yapuwa, MANA

Blantyre Water Board (BWB) chairperson, George Nnesa has disclosed that plans are underway to expand the water supply by constructing a new water intake to be set up 4kms from Walkers Ferry at the Shire River to meet the demand in the city and surrounding areas.

Mia planting a tree at Mudi Dam catchment area

Nnesa said this on Thursday in Blantyre when Minister of Water & Sanitation, Abida Mia joined BWB in a tree planting exercise at its Mudi catchment area as well as touring Walkers Ferry.

“The Board will set up a solar power generation plant because we spend up to K1.2 billion every month to pay to [Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi] ESCOM which is quite heavy for BWB.

“This is as a result of increases in tariffs. We are going to have our solar plant which will generate 30 megawatts. We use about 26 megawatts at the moment and our plan is to have 50 megawatts.


“The project will take 24 months to be completed. We could have started by now but the delay was as a result of CoVID-19 issues but we are in the final stages. By May this year, we will be able to have identified a contractor.”  

Nnesa said upon its completion, the new pumping intake will be able to generate 299,000 cubic meters of water from the current 101,000 cubic meters being pumped at Walkers Ferry.

Arriving at Walker’s Ferry for inspection

“Once completed, Walkers Ferry will no longer be our water intake but all the other processes like treatment among others will remain,” he said.

According to Nnesa, the cost of the whole project is US$112 million (approximately K92.4 billion), a loan facility which the board has secured from Exim Bank of India.

Minister Abida Mia this commended BWB for its efforts in ensuring that it was providing safe and potable water to its consumers and also for “ensuring the protection and reafforestation of the Mudi catchment area, which is the main source for Mudi Dam”.

“I want to encourage Blantyre Water Board to maximize usage of the Mudi Dam to increase availability of water in the supply system,” Mia said.


She applauded BWB for its plans to expand water supply as well as the plans to construct the solar power generation plant to run all its pumping stations to ensure affordable and uninterrupted water supply services.

The Minister added that the Ministry was determined to renew its efforts and commitment towards expanding and improving the potable water supply network throughout the country and make water available to all.

“Government will always be there to support innovations focused on improving water supply systems,” Mia assured.

Last December, when the utility service provider launched a 5-year Strategic Plan (2020-2025) — which aims at providing best services to residents within Blantyre City and surrounding areas — Nnesa disclosed BWB owed ESCOM about K24 billion as outstanding water pumping tariffs which it is failing to honour.

Mudi Dam

Thus launching the Strategic Plan to counter increasing social and economic challenges the organisation is facing due to urbanisation and the hostile economic operating environment.

He had said they do not have enough funds to cover their monthly bills and the bill they owe ESCOM accumulated in a space of two years — which they asked government to help settle.

The project at Walker’s Ferry to build its own solar plant is in the Strategic Plan in order to reduce electricity bills and to have the new pipeline from from Shire River so that they can double the capacity and be able to meet the growing demand of water in the next five years.

Efforts have been done to reforest Mudi Dam catchment area for many years


To return to its old self

But last week saw a huge smear in BWB’s efforts for clean and safe water when the public complained of odour and colouration of water discovered in household taps.

After investigations, BWB issued a statement that this was due to huge deposits of organic matter and silt in the Mudi Dam reservoir brought about by heavy rains caused by Cyclone Ana.

BWB said they had been receiving the complaints since last Friday February 18 and after immediate investigations, its water quality team discovered that with passage of time the organic matter is now producing an odour which can be smelled in their treated water.

“The water algae and other organic compounds and odour are removed through the normal water treatment process,” said the statement.


“Blantyre Water Board has, therefore, intensified water treatment and has shut down Mudi Treatment Plant until long term solution is found for the water at Mudi Dam.

“We are also flushing out water in tanks that have been affected to ensure that clear water only is distributed.”

BWB assures its customers that “the water in its supply system goes through a rigorous treatment process and the odour or colour being smelled and seen is as a result of the [explanation].

“Otherwise, the quality of water with regard to compliance to standards has not been compromised at all.

Since last most parts of Blantyre have been experiencing intermittent water supply, probably due to the shutdown of the Mudi Treatment Plant.

In 2020, residents of Ndirande-Malabada were totally unconvinced when BWB explained that a decomposed body that was discovered on in a water chamber at BWB’s Chamber 79 in the area did not contaminate the water supply to the residents.


After pressure from the residents for an explanation, BWB explained in a statement that it had been working on Chamber 79 after receiving complaints from its customers that there was no water flow but after finishing the maintenance works, there was still no water flow and its team of technicians was deployed back to check on the pipeline to Ndirande Tank.

As inspectors were still carrying out checks on the pipeline, explained BWB, a human dead body was discovered in a chamber and after alerting the police the decomposed dead body was removed.

There were conflicting reports of what happened but rumours circulated then indicated that the deceased was actually BWB’s member of security team assigned for Chamber 79.

The sources had said the security guard had actually been missing three weeks prior to when the body was retrieved and it had totally disintegrated — the head detached from the rest of the body and was immediately buried at a nearby grave yard.

The water Chamber 79 was since fenced

BWB’s statement did not mention that the deceased was their member of staff, which the residents came to know after been tipped by the fellow guard he was sharing shifts with.

Residents were very irked by this development and several had resorted to buying bottled water for drinking because they feel the water was contaminated.

However, BWB assure customers that “the incident did not result in any contamination of the water which we offer to our customers”, adding that its “water is disinfected with chlorine and tested before being distributed to our customers”.

While BWB said the police were investigating the incident, no result was ever shared to the public.

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Last year, 325 residents of Area 18 in Lilongwe were compensated of K4.5 million each after they sued having been subjected to drink  water that was contaminated with human faeces between the night of July 17-18, 2017 following a broken sewage pipe.

In his ruling Lilongwe High Court’s Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda found the two defendants guilty of disregard of duty taking cognizance that this was “a very unique case, probably the first of its kind in Malawi’s jurisprudence”.

Justice Kenyatta added that the victims “suffered a horrible experience— an experience that they would not want to remember but unfortunately will never be erased in their minds”.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express