ZESCO negligence caused depletion of water levels at Kariba Dam – Engineers

Kariba Dam,Lake Kariba from the Zimbabwean side. © Bill Corcoran:IRIN
File pic: Kariba Dam,Lake Kariba from the Zimbabwean side. © Bill Corcoran:IRIN

The Engineering Institution of Zambia says the current power crisis has been caused by ZESCO’s delay to implement remedial measures despite early indications of subdued water levels at the Kariba Dam.
EIZ President Bernard Chiwala said the reservoir at Kariba Dam has not reached its maximum retention level of 488.5 meters for the last five years.
Engineer Chiwala was speaking during a presentation of report findings on the cause of low water levels at the Kariba dam.
He said the investigations showed that Lake Kariba started the 2014-2015 rain season on a lower reservoir level than the previous five years with approximately 40 billion cubic meters in storage as at 30th September 2014.
Mr. Chiwala revealed that despite restrictions on water use by Zambezi River Authority, ZESCO and the Zimbabwe Power Authority (ZESA) continued to generate power way above the 500 megawatts revised threshold, leading to further reduction of water levels.



He said the low reservoir levels for the 2014/15 season cannot be attributed to the poor inflows alone as the daily reservoir was 80 percent filled during the month of July.
Mr. Chiwala stated that ZESCO exceeded its water allocation by 22 percent during 2014 saying this coupled with low inflows is a contributor to low water levels being experienced.
Mr. Chiwala revealed that despite the end of March 2015 directive from Zambezi River Authority to the two utilities to reduce generation, this was not immediately implemented until in ZESCO’s case, August 2015. This led to further drawdown of the reservoir threatening total shutdown of the power plant.
Mr. Chiwala added that the Engineering Institution of Zambia has recommended that customers must be encouraged to switch off non-essential loads such as geysers, hot elements and swimming pool pumps.