George Maponga in Masvingo
The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) in Masvingo is on high alert of potential flooding downstream of Lake Mutirikwi as the water body nears spilling for the second time this year owing to rains that have been falling in the dam’s catchment area over the past week.
Lake Mutirikwi,the country’s second largest interior dam first spilled in February this year, the first time in more than 20 years, after incessant rains in Masvingo.
The dam has also since been decommissioned from irrigating cane plantations in Chiredzi with water collecting in the reservoir now earmarked for the planned Mutirikwi greenbelt.
In a statement,ZINWA says the dam was over 98 percent full a few days ago,with spilling expected after 72 hours if rains continued to fall in the catchment.
The water utility warned communities in downtown areas to exercise caution as the risk of flooding is very high.
“The authority(ZINWA) is working closely with the Masvingo Provincial Civil Protection Unit and the relevant district structures in creating the necessary awareness and putting in place the necessary measures for the mitigation of the impact of the anticipated spilling of Lake Mutirikwi,”read the statement.
Communities downstream of the water body were also been advised to secure their irrigation equipment and avoid crossing rivers in view of the anticipated spilling of the dam that was 98.7 percent full on Sunday.
Lake Mutirikwi is the sole water source for Masvingo City and its decommissioning from irrigating Lowveld cane fields has created scope for creation of a greenbelt from around Mutimurefu Prison east of the ancient city right up to Ripling Waters further to the east on the border between Masvingo and Bikita districts.
The lake first spilled early this year a feat that was last achieved in the year 2000 when Cyclone Eline precipitated flooding around Zimbabwe.