THIRTEEN major dams are spilling as run off and river flows increase following the good rains across Zimbabwe, particularly the northern and eastern parts, in the last four weeks.
Lake Chivero, the main source of Harare city water, is now spilling and rated at 101 percent full, that extra one percent taking into account the depth of the water over the spillway as the Manyame River now flows freely into the larger Lake Manyame.
A lot of the recent inflows have come down the Mukuvisi and Marimba tributaries that drain most of Harare, which have seen floods in places like Budiriro.
The spilling of Lake Chivero will not make any difference to the erratic and deficient supplies of treated water to businesses and residents of Harare Metropolitan since these are the result of the main Morton Jaffrey water works working at less than half capacity due to skimped maintenance over the last two decades and now a shortage of purification chemicals. There is not a shortage of raw water to feed those waterworks. But with the lake spilling some of the filth in the lake is being flushed downstream.
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said in total, all major dams, minus Lake Kariba, were now holding 85 percent of their total capacity, meaning supplies were generally secure for both urban water supplies and irrigation agriculture.
With most rivers still running strongly, dam levels are still rising.
“Dams that are now full and spilling include Chivero 101 percent, Mwenje Exchange 100,4 percent, Masembura 100,8 percent, Biri 102,7 percent, Khushinga Phikelela 100,6 percent, Rufaro, Arcadia, Rusape and Wenimbi. However, dams such as Mzingwane at 4,2 percent and Upper Ncema at 2,7 percent remain critically low.
“Regardless of these increasing water levels in the dams, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority continues to remind water users that water remains a finite resource and they should use it as sparingly as possible,” she said.
Farmers and other raw water users intending to draw water from Zinwa dams in the coming irrigation season are advised to start working on renewing or getting their water abstraction agreements in readiness for the season.
These water abstraction agreements allow Zinwa to allocate the available water efficiently among competing users.
Zimbabwe National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) president Mrs Monica Chinamasa said it was a good sign for winter farmers to start preparations.
“The rising of dam levels signal a bumper winter harvest this year and it is a good sign for winter farmers to start preparations. This is very crucial for the winter crop such as wheat but I urge the Environmental and Management Agency (EMA) to act on the stream bank cultivation which is causing a lot of siltation in dams.
“A lot of education and awareness campaigns should be put in place because not all farmers are aware of these issues. Water bodies should be protected so that we benefit from them,” she said.
Tobacco Farmers’ Union Trust president, Mr Victor Mariranyika, said the initiative showed that the country had more water for irrigation in winter and summer.
“Farmers who are near these dams should use the water for agricultural production. They need to use water wisely in order for us to improve productivity. Very soon dams will all fill up and this will go a long way in improving agricultural activities and boost production. We also expect more production,” he said.