THE Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) says the heavy rains pounding the region have led to exponential rise in Lake Kariba water levels.
ZRA said from December 22, 2020 to January 18, 2021, water levels in the world’s largest man-made lake increased by 0,40 metres or 0,08%, thus pushing the lake level up by 3,21m above the minimum operating levels (MOL) of 475,50m.
This translates to 14,55 billion cubic metres of usable water storage.
In recent years, recurring droughts significantly reduced water levels, resulting in ZRA cutting water rations for electricity production.
This resulted in massive power cuts in Zimbabwe and Zambia — the two countries which jointly manage the water body.
The power cuts had knock-on effects as companies were forced to cut production while the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments resorted to importing power from South Africa and Mozambique to avert industry collapse.
The declining water levels also posed a danger to aquatic life in the lake.
ZRA chief executive officer Munyaradzi Munodawafa said the rise in water levels would help reboot economies.
“It is very encouraging to note lake levels, which should be generally in a decreasing trend at this time of the year have recorded a steady rise due to increased rainfall activity on and around the lake leading to a level of 478,71m with 22,45m being live/usable water on 18 January 2021,” Munodawafa said.
During the same period last year, the levels were lower at 475,71m with 8,36% usable water.
Munodawafa said despite the normal-to-above-normal rainfall projections, the authority will maintain the amounts of water allocated to power generation.
“Based on the meteorological authorities’ projections of normal-to-above-normal rainfall for the ongoing 2020-21 rainfall season, the authority will maintain 30BCM of water allocated for power generation at Kariba for year 2021. This will be shared equally between Kariba North Bank Power Station (Zambia) and Kariba South Bank Power Station (Zimbabwe),” he said.
Munodawafa added that ZRA would continue monitoring the inflows into Kariba.
“The authority continues to gather and record daily water readings at its 14 gauging stations located along the Kariba catchment area, with the recorded hydrological data used in informing reservoir operations at Kariba. The principal gauging station at Chavuma and Victoria Falls remain pivotal as far as gauging of the overall inflows into Lake Kariba is concerned,” he said.
ZRA is a bi-national organisation mandated to manage the Zambezi River that forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
It also maintains the Kariba complex and development of any future dams or infrastructure on the same river stretch.