Although water levels at the Kariba dam, on the Zambezi river, are so low that the dam may be forced to stop generating electricity for Zambia and Zimbabwe, there is so far no such problem further downstream, at the Cahora Bassa dam in the western Mozambican province of Tete.
According to a release from Mozambique’s National Water Board (DNA), the Cahora Bassa reservoir is 61 per cent full, and the dam is discharging water at the rate of 1,900 cubic metres a second. For the foreseeable future there is no danger that Cahora Bassa will be obliged to reduce its generation of electricity.
This contrasts sharply with the situation at Kariba. Last Thursday, Zambia’s Energy Minister, Dora Siliya, warned that water levels were at dangerously low levels, which could force the power station to cease operating.
As of 28 Dccember, the Kariba reservoir was just 14 per cent full, compared with 51 per cent a year earlier. If the current drought continues, Kariba, which has the theoretical capacity to generate over 1,600 megawatts, will be unable to produce any electricity at all. If that happens, Zambia will have no alternative but to fall back on emergency thermal power stations.
Most other Mozambican dams are in a reasonable state. In the north, the Nampula and Nacala reservoirs, critical for the water supply in these two cities, are 60 per cent and 91 per cent full respectively, and their levels are continuing to rise.
At the Chicamba dam, on the Revue river, in the central province of Manica, the reservoir is only 24 per cent full. Chicamba is not generating electricity at the moment due to the ongoing rehabilitation of the power station where obsolete equipment, dating from the colonial epoch, is being replaced.
In the south the Pequenos Libombos and Corumana dams in Maputo province are 46 per cent and 28 per cent full, and are continuing to discharge (at the rates of four cubic metres and 11 cubic metres respectively).
But levels at the Massingir dam, on the Elephants rivcr, the major tributary of the Limpopo, in Gaza province, are down to 4.4 per cent.
The level of most rivers in the country is dropping, and they thus present no threat of flooding. The exception is the Messalo river, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, which is approaching flood alert level.
The DNA is urging consumers in the drought-stricken south of the country to use water rationally.