Lumbidzani Dima, Chronicle Reporter
FIVE dams in Matabeleland are full and three of them have started spilling following rains received in recent days, bringing both joy and potential danger in some communities.
While the overflowing of the water bodies is good news expected to guarantee enough water supply in the respective areas where the dams are located, people downstream are urged to be cautious and refrain from crossing at unsafe points to avoid being swept away.
Communities near the spilling dams have since been placed on high alert.
According to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), under the Mzingwane catchment area, Zhovhe Dam is at 101,5 percent full while under Gwayi Catchment, Ngwenya Dam is at 109.3 percent and Pollards dam is 100 percent full. Khami Dam is also at 100 percent.
Zinwa also said Tshangwa Dam is also spilling but did not give a percentage.
Other dams whose water has significantly risen are Bulawayo’s supply dam Lower Ncema which is at 91,5 percent full. Upper Ncema is 17.9% full while Mzingwane is 6.5% of capacity.
Last month, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) Deputy Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Sikhumbuzo Ncube said that the local authority could soon be forced to decommission Mzingwane due to low water levels.
Ingwizi is at 86, 8%, Mtshabezi (68.4%) Bubi-Lupane (75%) and Insukamini (74.4%). In an alert, Zinwa said communities near spilling dams have been placed on high alert.
“A sizeable number of small and medium dams are now full and spilling. Some isolated large dams are also now full and spilling. Communities around these dams have been placed on high alert,” said the water authority.
Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager, Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said with the received rains, the water is sufficient to support summer irrigation requirements as well as the domestic needs for the major cities and towns.
The country’s largest inland dam, Tugwi-Mukosi with a 1,8 billion cubic metre capacity, is spilling for the second time since its commissioning in 2016, sparking fears of flooding in downstream areas. This has prompted the Civil Protection Unit in Chiredzi to be on high alert.
By Friday, Zinwa said the national storage levels had risen to 82,6% way above the 63,7% normally expected during this period of the year. Mrs Munyonga said other dams in Mashonaland East, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Midlands and Matabeleland South provinces such as Khami, Insiza, Mtshabezi, Zhovhe and Antelope have also recorded positive changes in dam levels.
According to the Meteorological Services Department (MSD), dams which have reached 100 percent capacity and started spilling can cause downstream flooding.
MSD urged members of the public to avoid crossing flooded rivers and always be weather-ready as there are dangers posed by the rains.
“Do not cross flooded rivers and swollen streams whether on foot or in a vehicle as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to sweep away a vehicle. Avoid driving on a road covered by water especially at night or during downpours when it’s more difficult to recognize flood dangers.
Even if no heavy rains have occurred in your area, they may have occurred up-stream,” it said.
The MSD said some parts of the country are expected to receive thunderstorms whilst others continue to receive light rains.
“Thunderstorms with localised downpours are expected in Matabeleland North, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, northern parts of Mashonaland East and Manicaland, whilst light rains remain probable in Harare, Bulawayo, Midlands, Matabeleland South and Masvingo provinces,” read the report.