SEVEN of the country’s 23 largest dams have reached full capacity, with the country’s largest inland water body, Tugwi-Mukosi, spilling for the first time since commissioning in 2017.
Data from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) shows that the national dam level average exceeded 82 percent last week, compared to 47 percent recorded during the same period last year.
Manyuchi (Masvingo), Tugwi-Mukosi (Masvingo), Sebakwe (Midlands), Zhovhe (Beitbridge), Silalabuhwa Dam (Matabeleland South), Bubi-Lupane (Matabeleland North), Upper Insiza (Matabeleland South) Dams have all reached capacity, with most now spilling.
Marovanyati Dam in Buhera, Manicaland province, which was recently commissioned by President Mnangagwa, is 95 percent full, while Harava Dam is approaching full capacity.
Kariba Dam — the world’s largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume — is now 26 percent full.
Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager, Ms Marjorie Munyonga, said the continued collection of water in dams would likely boost water security for irrigation.
“The country has received substantial rains since the commencement of the rainy season at the end of October 2020, in a development that boosts water security for both irrigation and domestic water needs,” she said.
“As of January 21, 2021, the proportion of the spilling dams had risen to 50,3 percent, up from 47 percent on January 14, 2021.
“The filling up of the dams has since pushed the national dam level average to over 82 percent as at January 29, 2021, which has already surpassed the national dam level average of 49,2 percent recorded during the same week last year.”
The current dam level average, she added, is above the 64,2 percent average normally expected during this time of the year.
“For the first time, the country’s largest inland water body, Tugwi-Mukosi, has spilled.
“In terms of catchments, Gwayi catchment has a dam level average of 99,6 percent, Manyame catchment 65,2 percent, Mazowe catchment 49,3 percent Runde catchment 79,3 percent, Sanyati catchment 106,9 percent and Save catchment 65,4 percent.
“Major dams that have since passed the 100 percent mark and are spilling include the Gweru water supply dams of Gwenoro, Whitewaters and Amapongokwe.
“In recent years Gweru has battled water challenges owing partly to highly depressed water levels in its water supply dams.
“Other major dams that are now either full or spilling include the recently commissioned Marovanyati, Zhovhe, Ngwenya, Pollards, Sebakwe, Claw, Exchange, Bubi-Lupane, Lower Mgusa, Insukamini, Silalabuhwa, Bangala, Mundi-Mataga, Upper Insiza, Padres Pool, Muzhwi and Bangazaan Dams.”
Under the National Accelerated Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development programme, the Government plans to increase the area under irrigation from the current 242 000 hectares to over 400 000 ha by 2025.
Ms Munyonga said authorities were wary of potential floods that were likely to affect communities downstream.
“While the continued rains and the filling up of dams improve the country’s water security, they also expose various communities living downstream of the dams to floods.
“Zinwa is mandated by Section 5 of the Zinwa Act to minimise the impact of floods, droughts and other hazards, and has put in place a floods response committee to help come up with ways to mitigate the impact of floods on human life and property,” she said.
“The authority is also working with other arms of the Government involved in disaster response to create the relevant awareness and alertness among communities downstream of the dams.”
Communities in flood-prone areas are also being advised not to cross flooded rivers, ensure the safety of any water abstraction equipment along rivers, including ensuring that children do not visit rivers without adult supervision.