The water levels at Lake Kariba are falling toward record lows, threatening hydroelectricity production for Zambia and Zimbabwe.
According to data released by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), the dam had 10.9% of usable storage this week, compared with 34.1% a year ago.
Water levels are close to those reached in the 1995/96 season, the lowest recorded since the 128-meter (420 feet) high dam was completed in 1959, reported Bloomberg.
Water Level Falling Faster
Kariba Dam water is shared by Zimbabwe and Zambia and is managed by the Zambezi River Authority, an agency jointly controlled by the two nation’s governments.
Both Zimbabwe and Zambia have built extra hydropower turbines at Kariba in the past decade, which release more water downstream.
In an emailed response to questions sent by Bloomberg, ZRA said it has taken measures to ensure that water doesn’t completely run out. It said:
Appropriate measures to prevent a complete depletion of the scarce water in the Kariba reservoir have been taken with the power utilities.
Considering the rainfall forecast for the forthcoming season of normal-to-above-normal, the authority has optimized the water allocation for 2023.
Kariba has a generation capacity of 2130 megawatts shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe, which are separated by the Zambezi.
The low water level may worsen Zimbabwe’s power challenges as Kariba Hydro, which is currently providing 750 megawatts, is the country’s only reliable power plant.