The Zambezi River Authority says lake levels at Kariba Dam have been decreasing steadily due to the reduction in rainfall activity in and around the reservoir, closing the period under review at 13.94% usable storage, on the 14th of March, compared to 41.7% usable storage recorded on the same date last year.
This follows the prior projection by the Authority for the rains to progress well into March 2022.
The projection was on course in January, with a steady increase in rainfall activity and associated increase in Zambezi River inflows.
“The lake levels rose from 478.23m recorded on the 7 th of January to 478.47m recorded on 17 January 2022, positioning the lake 2.97 metres above the minimum Operating Level of 475.50m,” said the Authority’s Chief Executive, Engineer Munyaradzi Munodawafa.
“This translates into 13.43 Billion Cubic Metres or 21% of stored usable water or live storage.”
However, lake levels started decreasing in February due to the decrease in rainfall activity, ending the month at 22.30% usable storage.
According to the Climate Prediction Centre’s Africa Hazards Outlook of 10-16 March, consistent suppressed rainfall since February strengthened the rainfall deficits, leading to abnormal dryness throughout Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique and parts of Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.
“Rainfall totals were less than 50 % of the average throughout eastern Botswana, southern Zambia, southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe,” read the Outlook.
Suppressed rainfall and the ensuing low lake levels are among the main causes of load-shedding in the country, often forcing the power utility supplier, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), to cut power generation at the Kariba Dam power plant.
Load shedding has in turn eroded incomes, crippled the economy and disrupted the day to day lives of people.
Lake Kariba, with current levels standing at 478.55m as of 14 March 2022, is designed to operate between 475.50m and 485.50m levels for hydro-power generation.