Lowveld water levels critical
Tongaat Hulett is tightening water management at the firm’s sugar plantations as supplies dwindle with water levels in the Lowveld reaching critical levels.
“This follows successive poor rainfall seasons in the main catchment areas and consequently low inflows which havwe led to decline in the industry’s major supply dams,” said the company in a statement.
Lake Mutirikwi is less than 25 percent of capacity. This is the first time it has reached such low levels since the devastating drought of 1992.
The use of the lake’s water to irrigate sugar plantations is also of concern to residents of the city of Masvingo as supplies to the city are also dropping.
Water supplies in the Lowveld are always closely watched due to the dry climate and a lot of hope is being pinned on the completion of the Tokwe Mukosi Dam.
Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, in his report on the state of the economy for April revealed that cumulative disbursements to the water and sanitation sector amount to $17.5 million, with the bulk of the resources, $15,5 million, going towards the payment of outstanding certificates for Tokwe Mukosi Dam.
“Major activities being carried out include rock fill of the dam wall and concrete lining of spillway and outlet channels. To date, the river has been closed and the rockfill on the right bank is now at 46 metres above the ground level, while the one for the left bank is now 20 metres above original ground level,” Biti said.
He added that with that water levels are already building up behind the coffer dam, it was critical that funding for the project continued to be availed, consistent with the targeted works programme.
“This should ensure that the dam is not washed away during the next rainy season,” he said.
Biti also said that relocation of affected families would also need to be prioritised through compensation and provision of basic social amenities such as health and education facilities.