THE Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has reduced water allocation to Zesco for power generation by 50 percent compared to last year due to low water harvest during the 2015/2016 rain season on the Zambezi River.
Lake Kariba was created and designed to operate between levels 475.50m and 488.50m with 0.70m freeboard at all times but latest information obtained from the authority indicates that the level dropped by 0.08m as the level during the last week of August was at 479.60m compared to 480.03m obtained on the same date last year.
Public Relations and Communications Manager Elizabeth Karonga told the Daily Nation that ten annual water allocations for Zesco has reduced from around 20 billion cubic metres in previous years to 10 billion cubic metres this year.
Ms. Karonga said that the levels in ten lake was in the recession and will only rise at the onset of the 2016/2017 rain season despite water still flowing into the Zambezi from its tributaries confirmed by Chavuma, Ngonye and Victoria falls gauging stations which are manned 24 hours daily to take readings.
“The annual water allocation for Zesco for 2016 is 10 billion cubic metres. This allocation is a 50% reduction from previous years and the reduction in the annual allocation was mainly due to reduced rainfall received in the Zambezi river basin during the 2015/2016 rainfall season which led to reduced Zambezi river flows and lake inflows at Kariba.
“Water continues to flow into the Zambezi from other tributaries as confirmed by the gauging stations (Chavuma, Ngonye falls, Victoria Falls) which are all manned 24 hours by ZRA staff who take readings from the Zambezi river and its tributaries,” Ms. Karonga said.
She said as a result of the low water levels in the Kariba dam, the power utility company will continue to produce electricity below the full capacity for the rest of this year even though water levels are likely to improve in November.
“The normal profile of the river is that river and lake level rise in the last quarter of any preceding year due to the onset of the rainy season and the flows and levels peak towards the month of June/July in the following year.
“Therefore, though the lake and river levels are now in recession from June/July 2016, it is anticipated that at the start of the 2017 rain season by November 2016, the river levels and lake levels will start to rise again. Due to reduced availability of water for power generation in the 2015/2016 period, generation continues to remain below full capacity for the rest of 2016,” she said.