Water levels at Lake Kariba remain low at only about 8% usable water despite getting considerable rainfall inflows of water, Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) chief executive, Munyaradzi Munodawafa says.
Mr. Munodawafa stated that it will take three years for the largest man-made dam in the world to reach its maximum capacity.
The ZRA manages the Kariba on behalf of the Governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Addressing the media, Mr. Munodawafa said Lake Kariba currently has 8.36 percent of water usable for power generation.
So far for January 2020, the Lake has received a total of 3.15 billion cubic meters as total inflows, compared to 1.97 billion cubic meters received over the same period last year 2019.
“The relatively high inflows monitored on the Upper Zambezi catchment remain weakened by the rather ‘thirsty’ Barotse and Chobe Flood Plains, resulting in paltry daily increments of about 6-12 m3/s per day at Victoria Falls. This explains why we are at 5.4 billion cubic meters or 8.36 percent usable storage in Lake Kariba as of this morning,” he said.
Mr. Munodawafa said inflows into Kariba last year was 18.84 billion cubic metres, a drop of about 70 percent from the 2018 record.
Kariba Dam, he said, needs at least three years to reach its maximum retention levels.
The average annual inflows into Lake Kariba are in the order of 40 billion cubic meters, meaning, under average conditions, and assuming a generation level in the order of 550 MW requiring approximately 22 billion cubic meters, it would take up to three years of average inflows to fill the lake to maximum retention level,” he said.
Lake Kariba has a capacity of about 180.6 billion cubic meters when full at 488.5 m.
Of this storage capacity, and because of design considerations, it is only the upper layer of approximately 65 billion cubic meters that is available for power generation.