Heavy rains fail to boost dams

HARARE - Dams have received only a “tiny fraction” of run-off despite recent heavy rains, according to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).

With the rainy season already underway, figures provided by the State-owned water utility show there has been very little flow into the country’s dams as of last Friday.

The figures are among the lowest recorded for this time of year and has left the national dam level average at 37,7 percent of their capacity.

“Despite the rains, no inflows have been recorded in most of the country’s major dams with only a few dams recording slight increases in water levels,” Zinwa spokesperson Marjorie Munyonga said yesterday.

“The national dam level average currently stands at 37,7 percent at a time when it is expected to be over 60 percent.”

Munyonga said for the major dams, the lowest is Muzhwi Dam in the Runde catchment area which is at 0,5 percent, while Khami Dam is now 94,1 percent full.

The water corporation has previously said the dramatic fall in run-off has been caused by successive years of declining rainfall, which has led to a drop in groundwater levels within dams’ catchments. It has likened catchments to sponges, saying that run-off begins only once they are sufficiently wet.

Harare’s major water sources Harava and Seke dams are at zero percent while Lake Chivero is 52,1 percent full. This is the major source of water for more than 3 million people in the capital.

The shortage of water has forced the city to ration the precious liquid to three days a week for most suburbs.

Other areas that are also rationing water are Bulawayo, Gweru and Mudzi in Mashonaland East.

According to the dam level report, Nyambuya Dam in the Mazowe catchment area stands at 80,5 percent while Upper Ncema is only four percent.

Irrigation dams in the Runde and Save catchments such as Bangala, Mutirikwi and Osborne dams are at seven, nine, five and 22 percent respectively.

Munyonga also warned irrigation farmers that in order for the authority to properly allocate them the available water, they should enter abstraction agreements.

“Irrigating farmers should ensure that any leakages along the irrigation lines are repaired to avoid water losses. Canals should also be lined to minimise evaporation.

“In the homes, users should ensure that leaking taps are repaired. Users should also practice rainwater harvesting,” Munyonga said.

In January, traditional leaders performed a rainmaking ceremony at Lake Kariba to improve the country’s dam levels. According to the Zambezi River Authority, as at November 24, Kariba Dam was 17 percent full, underscoring the severity of a prolonged drought that threatens crops across the country. Zimbabwe relies heavily on the Kariba Dam for electricity.

The Meteorological Services Department has predicted that Zimbabwe will in the 2016/2017 season experience the La Nina phenomenon which is characterised by above normal rains.

While there are chances of above normal rainfall, the country should also anticipate a drought, the Met Department has warned.

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