The reservoir behind the Pequenos Libombos dam on the Umbeluzi River, in Maputo province, is filling up rapidly requiring an increase in discharges.
The reservoir can hold 400 million cubic metres of water and as of 10 January it contained 350.74 million cubic metres. Water has been pouring down the Umbeluzi into southern Mozambique from Eswatini, where a dam has reached the limits of its capacity.
The director of the Pequenos Libombos dam, Jaime Timbe, told reporters that the dam has doubled its discharges, from 60 to 120 cubic metres a second. It will maintain this level of discharge for 72 hours to create space in the reservoir to receive the water entering from upstream.
The discharges will mean flooding on the lower Umbeluzi and in Boane district the road from the district capital to outlying villages is already impassable.
Nonetheless, the sight of the reservoir approaching near capacity must bring a sigh of relief from Maputo water supply officials as in recent years the problem with the Pequenos Libombos reservoir has been too little water, not too much.
The Umbeluzi is the main source of drinking water for the Greater Maputo Metropolitan Area and when the level of the reservoir fell to below 20 per cent water rationing systems had to be enforced. But, at its current level, said Timba, the reservoir can provide water for irrigation in the Umbeluzi valley and drinking water for Maputo, Matola and the surrounding area for the next four years.