Kariba hydro-electricity water allocation review set for June

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Water levels at Lake Kariba have continued to rise steadily although authorities will only review allocation of live water at the end of the 2nd Quarter of 2021
Water levels at Lake Kariba have continued to rise steadily although authorities will only review allocation of live water at the end of the 2nd Quarter of 2021

Sydney Kawadza

Water levels in Lake Kariba continue to rise increasing by about 25 percent in the past month, the Zambezi River Authority has said.

The authority, however, indicated that a decision to review water allocated to Zimbabwe and Zambia for electricity generation would only be made after a meeting scheduled at the end of the 2nd quarter of 2021.

The ZRA chief executive Engineer Munyaradzi Munodawafa said the lake level recorded on April 7 of 481.97 meters has placed the lake level at 6.47 meters above the Minimum Operating Level of 475.50m.

“This places the lake water levels at 6.53 meters below the full supply level of 488.50 meters. Last year on the same date (7th April 2020), the Lake level was lower at 478.25m with 12.40 BCM of usable water or 19.17 percent live storage.

“This had placed the lake water levels at only 2.7m above the Minimum Operating Level of 475.5m and 10.25m below the full supply level of 488.50m.”

In the last update provided on March 3 this year, the lake levels increased by a total of 1.21 meters, increasing from the level of 480.76m previously recorded with an associated live storage of 24.30 BCM, to a lake level of 481.97 meters with a live storage of 30.30 BCM recorded on April 7 this year.

“This represents a 25 percent increase in live storage (usable water) over a period of 37 days. The Authority has maintained the 30 BCM of water allocated for power generation operations at Kariba for the year 2021, shared equally between the two power stations.

“A review of the hydrological outlook is scheduled to be undertaken by the end of the second quarter of 2021 that will inform on any adjustments to this water allocation,” Munodawafa said.

In line with the seasonal forecast released by the Twenty-Fourth Annual Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-24) in August 2020, the bulk of the SADC region in general and the Kariba Catchment in particular, has received normal to above-normal rainfall during the first quarter of 2021.

The ZRA as monitored at the Authority’s Key River Flows Gauging Stations are at Chavuma Gauging Station and the Victoria Falls Gauging Station.

The flows at Chavuma were notably declining during the period although ZRA indicated that as per hydrological cycle for the station, the flows have increased thus closing the period under review at 3,396m3/s.

This translates into an increase of 1,104m3/s from March 3, 2021 recorded flow of 2,292m3/s while on the same date last year, the flows were higher at 5,803m3/s.

“The peak in flows during this time of the year is historical and is a normal hydrological cycle for the gauging station whereby two peaks are recorded twice in any given season; starting with one during the first quarter and the second in the second quarter of the year.”

Munodawafa said flows recorded at Victoria Falls gauging station are now receding following the first peak in flows of early March 2021.

“On April 7, 2021, the recorded flow at Victoria Falls flows was 3,231 m3/s which is lower than the 3,890m3/s flow recorded on the same date last year. However, as per historical hydrological cycle, the station is expected to record a second peak in flows in May 2021,” he said.

The ZRA is a Bi-National organization mandated to contribute to the economic, industrial and social development of Zimbabwe and Zambia by obtaining the greatest possible benefits from the natural advantages offered by the waters of the Zambezi River.

The mandate is pushed through the most economical and effective means of providing water for generation of electricity and for other purposes which the Contracting States may decide on.

 

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