THE Zambezi River Authority has increased to 4 billion cubic metres water allocation to Zesco and its sister power utility in Zimbabwe, ZPC, for power generation.
In a second quarter update of the water levels at the Kariba Dam, ZRA chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa said, “Following a review of hydrological outlook at Kariba undertaken at the end of the second quarter of 2020, the authority has since increased the water allocation for power generation operations at Kariba by four billion Cubic Meters (4BCM). As per agreed operational framework for Kariba, the additional water allocation will be shared equally between Zesco Limited and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) for their respective power generation operations at Kariba. This is an upward revision of the combined water allocation for the year 2020 from 23BCM to 27 BCM.”
The Zambian government has all along been blaming low water levels in Kariba dam as reason for the increased debilitating load-shedding the country has been experiencing.
The government and the power utility, Zesco, now say load-shedding is expected to end in December.
Munodawafa, however, added that the ZRA would continue monitoring the hydrological outlook for the Kariba catchment and water levels at the dam.
Munodawafa, however, said as per historical trends following the end of a rainfall season, flows of the Zambezi River and its tributaries receded.
He said the authority had continued to gather and record daily water level readings at its 14 gauging stations located within the Kariba catchment area.
“Of these, two key gauging stations namely, Chavuma and Victoria Falls are pivotal [as] regards the gauging of the overall inflows into Lake Kariba. The recorded flows at the two stations, including the lake itself are as follows: The Zambezi River flows recorded at Chavuma rose from 236 cubic meters per second (m3/s) recorded on 1st January 2020 to double peak flows of 5,006 cubic meters per second (m3/s) and 5,825 m3/s recorded on 25th February 2020 and 17th March 2020, respectively, before receding,” Munodawafa said further.
“The flows recorded this week at Chavuma have been of the order 330 cubic meters per second and receding as per historical trends. The flows recorded last year during the same period were lower and in the order of 120(m3/s) and also receding. The Zambezi River flows recorded at Victoria Falls rose from 349 m3/s recorded at the start of January 2020 to double peaks of 4,289 m3/s and 4,568 m3/s recorded on 31st March 2020 and 3rd May 2020, respectively, before starting to recede.”
He said as of July 16, the flows at Victoria Falls had receded to 1,099 m3/s, 88 per cent higher than the 585 m3/s flow recorded same date last year.
“Following the commencement of the rains, the lake water levels began to increase starting on 12th January 2020, with the lake level steadily rising from 476.71m which was barely 1.21 meters (m) above the minimum operating level (MOL), to reach a peak of 481.30m recorded on 30th June 2020, with a corresponding usable storage of 26.94 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) or 41.57 per cent live storage,” said Munodawafa.
“Thereafter, the lake level started receding. As of 16th July 2020, the lake level had receded to 481.21m, representing 40.89 per cent live storage or 26.50 BCM of stored usable water. This left the lake level at 5.71m above the minimum operating level (MOL) of 475.50m.”