Home LOCAL NEWS Kariba Dam water levels further recede

Kariba Dam water levels further recede

Kariba South extension comes alive

WATER levels at Kariba Dam further receded this week to the danger mark of 477,19 metres above sea level, representing 12% full, from 59% recorded in the comparative period last year.


During the prior comparative period, Kariba Dam was 483,49 metres above sea level. This means the current water level at 477,19 metres, is just about two metres above the minimum water generation threshold, which is 475 metres, required to turn the turbines.

If the situation continues like this, Kariba faces decommissioning before the end of next month, according to experts.

“The lake level continued receding, dropping by 3cm during the week under review, before closing at 477,19 metres (12% usable storage) on November 25, 2019,” the Zambezi River Authority(ZRA) ,a joint venture outfit for the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia, which manages water resources in the Zambezi River and Kariba complex, said Tuesday.

Kariba South Hydroelectric Power Station used to be a reliable and cheapest source of electricity for Zimbabwe, but, has seen its output cut to 238 megawatts (MW) this week, from a possible 1 050MW. The situation has resulted in intensified load-shedding in Zimbabwe.

The critical power shortages in Zimbabwe is ravaging the already ailing economy and government is seeking investment and sustainable solutions to the power challenges bedeviling the economy.

Fears for a possible decommissioning of Kariba are also growing in ZESA.

Zimbabwe contributes about 20% of water flows into Kariba Dam. Only two rivers in Zimbabwe supplies water into the lake. Munyati feeds Sanyati River which supplies water into Kariba. Another is Gwaai River. About 80% of water flows comes from Angola, DRC and Zambia, among other catchment. Water pass through the barotse plains or wetlands, but they are still thirsty at the moment,meaning even if it rains heavily ,water will be grabbed in the plains. Until they are satisfied, they will not release the remainder of the water into Kariba.

Zimbabwe requires about 2 800 MW at peak hours but was this week generating about 600MW. This means huge power supply deficit which has seen customers being load shed for long hours. The situation has been exacerbated by poor performance by thermal power stations in Hwange, Munyati, Bulawayo and Harare due to obsolete plants, long past their intended lifespan.To cover for the short fall, it’s imports from regional suppliers, especially Eskom of South Africa and Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCH) of Mozambique.

The dire situation, however, has come at a time when South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, a major supplier of electricity to Zimbabwe, is also facing a critical shortage of power. Few weeks ago, Eskom started implementing Stage 2 load-shedding.

Zimbabwe and Zambia are planning another power project upstream on the Zambezi, the Batoka Gorge, to address electricity shortages.Two months ago, ZRA, chose General Electric Company and Power Construction Corporation of China to build the US$4bn project.

The Zambezi River, meanwhile, is near its lowest level in half a century. If the water level continues to fall, Zimbabwe and Zambia have warned power generation at the existing dam will be suspended entirely in November or December. And while droughts may come and go, the river’s future looks grim.

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