Masvingo — Water levels at Tugwi Mukosi, Zimbabwe's largest inland lake have drastically gone down, CAJ News Africa can reveal.
The development threatens the sugar industry in the Lowveld if significant rains are not received in the next three months.
Tugwi Mukosi has been supplying irrigation water to Triangle and Hippo Valley Estates over the past three years.
It however did not receive much water the previous rainy season, characterised by low rainfall and its water level is now at a lowly 36.7 percent.
When it was commissioned by former President Robert Mugabe after several years under construction, it was 70 percent full.
Some water experts then pointed out that it should only start irrigating the sprawling sugar estates when it was 100 percent full but such advice was disregarded.
To worsen matters, Zimbabwe's second largest inland lake, Mutirikwi is also down at 36, 9%.
The lake is the source of water for Masvingo town and also irrigates the Lowveld sugar plantations.
Another supply dam, Bangala is only at 16,2%.
The only dam in Masvingo province which is better off is Manjirenji which supplies water to Mkwasine sugar cane estate. It has 55.6 percent water level.
According to Marjorie Munyonga, the corporate communications and marketing manager for Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), Masvingo's dams remain low at a time when the national dam level average has risen from 0.66% to 48.7%.
The water readings were made on January 13, 2020.
"Despite these improvements, the water situation remains worrisome as the national dam level average expected during this time of the year is at least 64%," said Munyonga told CAJ News Africa.
She urged residents and companies to save water.
"The Zimbabwe National Water Authority continues to urge all water users across the board to continue conserving the limited available water so that the resource can be stretched further.
"All those using raw water from ZINWA, managed dams, for purposes are advised to ensure that their use is in accordance with the requirements of the Water Act which makes it mandatory for such users to be in possession of water abstraction agreements, which they enter with ZINWA. Those without the relevant agreements are advised to approach their respective catchment offices," said Munyonga.
Statistics availed to CAJ News Africa showed that dams across the country that recorded improvements include Ngwenya which gained 1.5% to end on 56%, Lungwala which is now on 24,3% full after gaining 3,5%. Tshangwa is now 66,6% after recording a 7,1% gain while Harava rose to 11,2% after a 3,4% gain.
Lake Manyame in Harare is now 81,1% full following a 6,4% increase and Blockely Dam's water level also rose to end on 36,1%.
Nyadire dam is now full after recording a 7, 1% increase in water levels while Exchange dam in Gwayi catchment had the highest gains, recording a 23,7% increase in its water level.