Lake Kariba levels recede




The water level at the Kariba dam has shrunk to a near-record low. (AFP / Guillem Sartorio)

Lake Kariba water levels have trended downward steadily in August dropping to 481.55m from a level of 482.16m recorded earlier in that month, according to the Zambezi River Authority.

The water levels remain adequate for secure energy supplies for both Zimbabwe and Zambia.

“The Lake’s level continues to recede steadily, closing the period under review at 481.55m on 1st September 2021,” the authority said in a latest update.

“From the last update made on 4th August 2021 when the recorded lake level was 482.16m, it has receded by 0.61m.  Currently, the lake level is 6.05 meters above the Minimum Operating Level (MOL) of 475.50m.”

The lake now holds some 28.16 billion cubic metres (BCM) or 43.45% of usable or live storage. Last year on the same date, the Lake level was lower at 480.48m with 22.94BCM or 35.40% of usable storage, with the water being only 4.98m above the minimum operating level.

The authority has maintained the 42 billion cubic meters (BCM) combined water allocation for power generation operations at Kariba for 2021 after it was revised upward from 30 BCM on 25th June 2021.

This follows a positive hydrological outlook at Kariba as a result of normal to above normal rainfall performance and associated increased inflows into Lake Kariba.

Daily water level readings continue to show a decline at the authority’s main gauging stations situated across the Kariba catchment area.

Zimbabwe and most SADC countries are likely to receive normal to above normal rains in both halves of the season for the coming 2021 – 2022 summer season.

This is for the second consecutive season that Zimbabwe and much of the region in general are likely to see better rains after most of SADC saw at least adequate rains last summer season.

Lake Kariba water levels are more likely to improve further.

In 2019, Lake Kariba, a major source of water for energy generation, domestic consumption, fisheries and wildlife, stood at its lowest level since at least 1996. Water levels on Lake Kariba fell sharply after southern Africa endured its worst drought in nearly four decades in the previous season.

Straddling the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Lake Kariba is 223 kilometres long and stretches 40 kilometres across at its widest point. – Herald