Rains increase water security for irrigation, domestic use
Precious Manomano Herald Reporter
Major dams such as Machekeranwa, Masembura and Exchange filled early this week along with many smaller and farm dams with the runoff from the heavy rains over two weeks, with Zimbabwe’s major dams now holding 81,7 percent of their total capacity.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) reported that Machekeranwa dam in the Save catchment was full, while Exchange dam (Gwayi catchment ) is 101.2 percent and Masembura dam (Mazowe catchment) is 101,7 percent. The national dam level average has risen to 81,7 percent from 81,2 percent seven days ago. All these dams are essential in irrigation and water supply.
Zinwa acting corporate manager Mr Tsungirirai Shoriwa said the current rains being experienced across the country continue to push water levels up in the major dams as rivers rise in flood bringing the runoff to the reservoirs.
“The increase in water levels translates to increased water security for irrigation and for domestic use. Increases in dam levels were noted in dams such as Muchekeranwa, Siya, Osborne, Tokwane, Mtshabezi, Mhlangwa, Zhovhe, Valley, Tuli-Makwe, Ingwizi, Mazowe, Bubi-Lupane, Tshangwa, Tshongokwe, Pollards, Mananda, Chivero, Manyame and Biri among others,” he said.
The small Bulawayo dam at Khami dam is 99.1 percent full, Whitewaters in Sanyati catchment is 99.4 percent, Mutirikwi is 94.5 percent, Khushinga Phikhelela is 95.7 percent, Amapongokwe (Runde catchment) 92.7 percent and Lake Chivero is 88.7 percent full. Harava Dam, which is used to back up the smaller Seke dam for Harare supplies, is currently at 28.9 full, showing that the Manyame catchment upstream to Marondera is still seeing farm dams filling before the river can come down in flood and fill the four dams supplying Harare. Farmers are already basically assured of adequate irrigation water for the winter wheat crop and Zimbabwe National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Mrs Monica Chinamasa said the dam levels meant winter farmers should start preparations.
“The rising of dams signalise a bumper winter harvest this year and it was a good sign for winter farmers to start preparations. This is very crucial for the winter crop such as wheat, but I urge Environment and Management Agency to act on the stream bank cultivation which is causing a lot of siltation in dams. A lot of education and awareness campaigns should be put in place,” she said.
Tobacco Farmers Union Trust president Mr Victor Mariranyika said the initiative showed that the country has more water for irrigation in winter and summer. “Farmers who are near these dams should use the water for agricultural production. They need to be used wisely in order for us to improve productivity.
“Very soon they will all fill up and this will go a long way in improving agricultural activities and boost production, we also expect more production,” he said.
More large dams in critical areas, what are called the high impact dams, are being built as Government moves forward on the construction of 12 high impact dams to continue building the agricultural sector and ensure adequate urban water supplies.
Dam water is crucial in agro-based rural areas as, agricultural production zones are Vision 2030 accelerators through maximisation of production of cash crops and major foreign currency generating crops such as tobacco, cotton and sunflower thereby empowering rural economies.
With the country pushing to return to its glory of the past through high production levels this summer season, irrigation water remains an important ingredient in ensuring maximum productivity. Even summer season farmers can get significant rises in yields most seasons if they have modest supplementary irrigation to get crops established earlier and fill any dry spells.
Meteorological Services Department is expecting a reduction of heavy rainfall across the country but still expecting more rains to come. The department also urged people to practise water harvesting from all possible sources, to get full advantage of the rains.