Mutirikwi Dam; so near yet so far
MASVINGO – It has been a case of so near yet so far for Mutirikwi Dam.
The dam, although not the biggest in the country has not spilled for the last 14 years since 2008.
Last year, the rains stopped when the water level was at 97,9% and ZINWA was preparing to open the floodgates. Many people were left with the illusion that the dam spilled in 2021, it didn’t and the floodgates were not opened except for testing.
The Mirror spoke to Zinwa officials.
The big question now is; are we going to have the dam finally spilling this year when most of its tributaries, Mucheke, Shakashe, Popoteke and Mutirikwi Rivers are hardly flowing?
Mutirikwi is the second most popular waterbody with tourists visiting Zimbabwe after Lake Kariba. The dam remained Zimbabwe’s largest inland waterbody until a few years ago when it was overtaken by Tugwi-Mukosi Dam which was commissioned by the late President Mugabe.
Tugwi – Mukosi which is 1 285 times bigger than Mutirikwi with 1.8 billion cubic meters against Mutirikwi’s 1.4 million cubic meters spilled last week.
As of this week Mutirikwi Dam is at 94,27% full, according to Zinwa Masvingo Communications and Marketing officer William Mugadziwa.
The dam’s average water level for the past decade has been around 42% and in some cases it dropped to as little as 18%. The phenomenal rise in water levels in 2021 was a big relief as it changed the calamitous dry bed view it struck over a decade with the province starring effects of climate change in the face.
The new water levels are also not only a relief to Masvingo City and Chiredzi sugarcane farmers that depend on the dam for water supplies but to the tourism sector which used to be Masvingo’s largest foreign currency spinner.
The 2021 rainy season ended with the dam 97.9% full having risen from 48%.
The Meteorological Service Department (MSD) has forecasted a normal to above normal rainfall for Masvingo Province from January to March 2022 with more dams expected to overspill.
Statistics released by Zinwa show that Mtirikwi water level has increased by 68.17% from October 13, 2020 and decreased by 2.87% since April 1, 2021.