Kariba Dam Water Levels Recede, But Enough To Generate Power – ZRA

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

WATER levels at the iconic Kariba Dam continue to recede but are expected to improve during the onset of the 2020/21 rain season.

This development, however, has not adversely affected water available for adequate hydro-electricity generation for both Zimbabwe and Zambia, which share the water body.

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), a quasi-parastatal that manages the dam, has assured of enough water for power generation, contrary to speculation that water levels had reached critically low stages and would affect power generation, resulting in renewed electricity blackouts.

ZRA chief executive, Munyaradzi Munodawafa, said water levels at Kariba, the world’s largest inland lake by volume, had been dwindling slowly.

“The lake level has continued to steadily recede after attaining a peak level this year of 481.30 meters on 30 June 2020, with 26.94 billion cubic meters of stored usable water,” said Munodawafa.

“The recorded lake level last Thursday was 480 metres, with 24.84 billion cubic metres of stored usable water or 38.3% live storage.”

The ZRA chief said the water level placed the lake at more than five meters above the minimum operating level of 475.50 metres.

Last year, during the same period, the lake was only 3 metres above the minimum operating level owing to low rainfall in the catchment area.

With floods reaching peaks along the lake’s catchment, coupled with increased electricity demand in winter, the water authority says it also increased water allocated for power generation to the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC).

Said Munodawafa; “Following the arrival of the upper Kariba catchment peak floodwaters at Kariba in June 2020, and due to increased demand for electricity, the authority effected a 4 billion cubic meters upward revision in the water allocation made for power generation operations at Kariba, increasing it from 23 billion cubics to 27 cubic metres.”

The water, he said, is shared equally between Kariba North Bank Power Station and Kariba South Bank Power Station, in Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively.

Munodawafa reiterated that in line with its mandate, ZRA would continue monitoring the hydrological outlook of the catchment, and make necessary adjustments in the reservoir operations to ensure sustainable use of water for hydro-electricity generation operations.

The authority records water levels daily at its 14 gauging stations.