WATER levels for dams supplying water to cities and towns in the southern parts of the country are now below 50 percent of capacity, thereby triggering fears that authorities might be forced to introduce a tight water shedding regime following continued erratic rains this season.
According to figures obtained from water management body, Zinwa, combined supply for dams in Bulawayo, Gwanda, Plumtree, Masvingo and Beitbridge were at below 50 percent of their capacity as at 7 January 2016.
The figures show that Bulawayo supply dams situated in Umzingwane and Insiza as well as the Nyamandlovu Aquifer now have a combined capacity of 166 920 million cubic metres or 41,7 percent.
In Gwanda, the figures show that Mujeni and Weir Water, the water bodies that supply the town, had a combined capacity of 3 972 million cubic metres which is just 39,2 percent.
According to the figures, the water is expected to last for the next seven months (around August).
Zinwa figures also show that in Plumtree; Mhlangwa, Mangwe, Bulilima water sources have 7 200 million cubic metres, which is just above half at 50, 4 percent.
In Masvingo, the figures show that the country’s biggest inland dam, Mutirikwi which does not only supply the city but the commercial sugar farms in the Lowveld, only has 345, 033 million cubic metres or 25 percent remaining.
In Beitbridge, although contingent measures have already been put in place, off river storage dams for the town are now left with just 0, 718 million cubic metres which is 10,7 percent of capacity.
Under normal circumstances, that water can only last for two months.
However, Zinwa spokesperson, Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said there is no need to press the panic button yet as the water in the dams might be able to take some of the cities until the next rainy season.
“The situation for Beitbridge is not critical since the town is now drawing water from Zhovhe Dam, which is 70 percent full. The same also applies to Gwanda which is getting water supply augmentation from Mtshabezi Dam, which is currently 72,7 percent full,” she said.
She said most dams across the country are still holding enough water to last the towns and cities until the next rainy season.
“Zinwa, however, continues to appeal to water users to use the available water efficiently so that the resource can be optimal. Zinwa also urges farmers intending to irrigate their crops using raw water from the dams to approach their nearest Zinwa offices and sign water abstraction agreements which allow them to use water legally. These agreements, despite being a legal requirement, also help Zinwa in water resources planning.”
On the other hand, figures show that dams supplying towns and cities in the northern parts of the country are still above 50 percent full.
Zinwa said dams supplying Harare, satellite towns and Chinhoyi were 80 percent full. Amapongokwe,
Whitewaters and Gwenoro which supplies Gweru are 57 percent full.
Claw Dam which supplies Kadoma is 78,8 percent while Sebakwe and Lower Zibagwe which supplies Kwekwe and Redclif are 65,3 percent full.
Figures from the Meteorological Services Department show that from October to end of December, Bulawayo received 154,3 millimeters of rainfall, Gweru (194,7 mm), Kwekwe (170,5 mm), Masvingo (167,4 mm) and Beitbridge (153,7 mm).
“The average rainfall received in the Southern Region (Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Gwanda, Masvingo and Beitbridge) for October, November and December was 168.1mm. So, the percentage of normal from a national perspective is 59 percent. The long term average for the region is 234.4mm,” said the Met Department.
The department added that the long term average for the region is 234.4mm.
“The percentage of normal of October to December totals of the regional long term average is 72 percent. This means that for the region, it was above their average but more than 50 percent of the national mean.”
However, the department acknowledged that although the figures might look positive, the distribution of the rains has been erratic.
“In most cases, the wet spells alternated with long dry spells which were accompanied by extremely high temperatures. This therefore affected soil moisture retention depending on the soil type as well as the management practices.”
Officials at the department said totals recorded did not reflect the rainfall’s timeframe.
“We measure total precipitation. Our measurements do not consider average distribution over all the months,” said an official from the department.
Zimbabwe, just like most parts of the region, is projected to receive low rains this season due to the effects of El Nino.
The El Nino, which caused by the Pacific Ocean warming, is characterised by floods in some areas and drought in the other areas.
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