Dar es Salaam, March 20
A prolonged drought in the basin downstream of the Kariba Dam, which spans Zimbabwe and Zambia, has reduced the flow of water into the world’s largest man-made lake, but it is expected to increase in the second quarter of 2022.
In its second annual update on the hydrological status of Lake Kariba released on Saturday, Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) CEO Munyaradzi Munodawafa said the lake’s water level has risen from 478.35 m recorded on 1 January 2022 To 478.52 m Xinhua reported, m March 18 recording.
The ZRA is a bilateral organization whose mission is to contribute to the economic, industrial and social development of Zimbabwe and Zambia by reaping the greatest possible benefits from the natural advantages determined by the two countries.
Both countries have power stations on the banks of the dam wall, which have been expanded in recent years to generate more electricity.
“The rise in lake levels in early January 2022 was mainly due to continued rainfall activity in the Lower Kariba Basin, but then the lake level declined due to reduced rainfall activity,” said Munodavafa.
“During this period, the Upper Kariba Basin, where most of the inflow into Lake Kariba experienced a delayed onset of rainfall activity. The lake level was recorded at 478.52 m on March 14, 2022, which means the lake is higher than the lake level 3.02 m. The minimum operating level (MOL) is 475.50 m.” This translates to 13.66 billion cubic meters (BCM) of stored usable water or 21.07% of live storage usable for power generation, he said.
On the same day in 2021, the lake water level is higher at 481.44 m, the available water stored is 27.62 BCM, or 42.62% of the live water storage, and the lake water level is 5.94 m higher than the MOL.
Despite the delayed start of rainfall activity in the upper Kariba basin, preliminary hydrological modelling conducted by ZRA indicated that lake levels will begin to rise in the second quarter of this year due to continued recorded rainfall activity in the upper basin, Munodawafa said.
“The simulations also suggest that the lake could peak at 480.30 m by June 18, 2022, which would place the lake 4.8 m above the MOL with 22.06 BCM of available water stored, or 34% of live storage available generation),” he said.
He said the ZRA maintained the 45 BCM of water allocated to ZESCO Limited and Zimbabwe Electricity Company’s respective power generation operations in Kariba in 2022.
ZESCO Limited is Zambia’s state-owned electricity company.
“In accordance with its mandate, the authority will begin a detailed quarterly review of Kariba’s hydrological outlook in April 2022,” he said. Ians