The Zambezi River Authority appreciates all the concerns you raised following the notice we put out regarding the impending opening of the flood gates in early March.
The Authority has delayed opening the floodgates due to major structural maintenance works currently taking place at the reservoir. It is anticipated that the works will be completed at the end of February, following which we need to ensure the solidity of the structure before we can open the floodgates. Some of the stakeholders actually make reference to the fact that “Opening three floodgates at the same time can compromise the integrity of the dam wall,” True. However, the remedial works currently in progress are meant to protect the plunge pool scour-hole against spill jets from the gates. We are carefully watching the Dam Flood Control Rule Curve which requires the dam to be drawn down to below 64% live storage (484.15m level) at the end of February each year. The current average rising rate is 2cm per day and if we factor the highly probable large inflow into the Kariba Dam due to peak inflows of the current season, that is when the necessity to open more gates might arise.
The Zambezi River Authority has a moral duty to alert all the stakeholders downstream of a potential nature-driven eventuality and not to cause alarm. When we plan the reservoir operations, we also factor the weather, based on the information from SARCOF on the prevailing hydro-meteorological conditions on the Kariba sub-basin which indicate continued wet conditions.
At a briefing we held with stakeholders in the lower Zambezi following the opening of the floodgates in 2010, we explained the Zambezi River Authority operations and appealed to all stakeholders to move wherever possible to higher ground. The weather patterns, due to climate change, are beyond our control and like all of you, we are grappling with coping mechanisms. Most of you are aware that there are six gates at the Kariba Dam, which in the case of an emergency, may be opened all at once. This is the extreme scenario which all operators in the Zambezi River Basin should be acquainted with in terms of flood preparedness. It is unfortunate that some of the structures which are very close to the river bank might have been constructed during the prolonged drought periods, hence the situation at hand.
We fully sympathize with all the concerns raised and we shall continue to manage the situation in such a way that our operations do not cause distruction.
Elizabeth M. Karonga
Public Relations & Communications Manager
Zambezi River Authority
Zim Cell +263 913002978
Zam Cell: +260 0977 318735
Direct Line +260 211 230551
Tel: +260 211 227970/1, +260 211 +260 211 228401/2
Fax: +260 211 227498