By Patrick Chitumba
The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has increased by 32 percent water allocation to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and Zambia’s ZESCO limited in a move that is going to result in a surge in power generation for both countries.
In a statement yesterday, Ms Elizabeth Karonga, ZRA public relations and communications manager, said ZPC and ZESCO were going to jointly use 23 billion cubic metres of water up to the end of the year.
Ms Karonga said at the end of July the Kariba Reservoir was 85 percent full, which is two metres below the full operating level and 11 metres above the minimum operating level.
“The Zambezi River Authority has therefore, increased the water allocated to the two power stations for power generation. Accordingly, ZESCO Limited and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) will be expected to jointly use approximately 23 billion cubic metres for the remaining period of the year 2018, bringing the total annual allocation to 45 billion cubic metres for 2018,” she said.
With this water allocation, Ms Karonga said the Lake Kariba level is expected to close the year about 7 metres above the minimum operating level, representing around 58 percent usable storage for electricity generation.
“In 2015 and 2016, the SADC region in general, and the Zambezi River Catchment in particular, received average to below average rainfall due to the El-Nino effect experienced during that time,” she said.
“This resulted in below average inflows into Lake Kariba and the corresponding low end-of-year lake levels of 14 percent for 2015, 15 percent for 2016 and 37 percent for 2017.
“The low lake levels signified a great reduction in available water for power generation activities at the two power stations.”
She added, “To mitigate the negative effects of the El-Nino on the water levels recorded at Kariba at that time, the Zambezi River Authority, in consultation with the two power utilities, reduced the allocated water for power generation from 40,5 billion cubic metres in 2015 to strictly 20 and 30 billion cubic metres for the two years 2016 and 2017, respectively.”
Ms Karonga said ZRA has been conserving water adding that there is water available for power generation in the coming year.
“The Zambezi River Authority wishes to inform the public that due to the conservation measures highlighted above, coupled with the above average rainfall received during the 2017 period, there has been a significant increase in the stored usable water for power generation, explaining why the water levels at Kariba are now quite high.”
“The Zambezi River Authority will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the sustained availability of water for power generation at Kariba Dam.”