(USA TODAY) - Residents of Zimbabwe's second largest city today are being urged to join a simultaneous "big flush" twice a week to help clear toilet waste that piles up in the sewers during weekly water outages.
City officials are asking 700,000 residents to flush their toilet, starting today, at exactly 7:30 p.m. twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, Bulawayo24 News reports.
Simela Dube, the city's director of engineering services, says if residents fail to participate. they will be exposed to diseases as more and more clogged pipes burst.
The city began shutting off water for 72-hour periods each week to try to stretch dwindling supplies until the next rainy season.
Authorities warn they may be forced to extend the weekly outage to 96 hours if residents continue to exceed their limit on water usage.
In the meanwhile, Neisa Mpofu, a city spokesperson, hastens to correct a misconception that households are only being allowed to flush twice a week. To the contrary, she reassures, residents can flush at other times too, the Associated Pressreports.
On the eve of today's first effort, the BBCreports that the "big flush" campaign is meeting mixed results.
"I don't think the exercise will be a success because when the flushing comes at 7:30, many townships would be without water," Bulawayo United Residents Association chairman Winos Dube tells the BBC.