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Main theme IWRM: harnessing the rivers of knowledge for socio-economic development, climate adaptation and environmental sustainability.

Sub theme: Water Resources Management IMPACT OF RESERVOIR OPERATIONS ON THE WATER BALANCE AND LAKE LEVEL FLUCTUATIONS OF THE CAHORA BASSA M. Phiria*, H. Makurirab, and W. Gumindoga b Masters Student, Integrated Water Resources Management, University of Zimbabwe, Department of Civil Engineering, P. Box MP167 Mt Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe. b University of Zimbabwe, Department of Civil Engineering, P. Box MP167 Mt Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe. * Corresponding author email: Abstract The lower middle Zambezi is sandwiched between three major dams; Kariba, Kafue (Itezhitezhi) and Cahora Bassa. These dams have an impact on the inflows in the Cahora and also on the area inundated upstream of the Cahora. This study aimed at estimating the water balance of Cahora Bassa using available meteorological and hydrological data sets such as rainfall, temperature and runoff for the period 1980 to 2011. The flow data analysed includes the discharge from the Kariba, Kafue and Cahora and river flows for Luangwa, Chongwe, Msengezi and Manyame. Missing data was generated using regression methods in order to fill incomplete series. GIS was used to calculate the isohyets for the average annual rainfall and the annual reference potential evapotranspiration in the lake drainage basin using the nearest neighbour interpolation technique. GIS was further used to process the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the study area through the DEM hydroprocessing algorithm in ILWIS thus establishing the ungauged catchment area of the Lake. A hydrological model, HEC-HMS, was then used to simulate runoff from the ungauged catchments which showed that these areas only contribute about 7 percent of the total estimated inflows of the Cahora dam. The results for a one hydrological year time step revealed total inflows averaging 68.73 x 109 m3/year, outflows averaged 52.25 x 109 m3/year and a residual storage of 15 x 109 m3/year. At high flood level, the water level contour indicates that the area inundated is 3,246 km2 at a water level of 329masl while the actual maximum water level for the period considered reached only 328.18m giving a volume of 57.69 billion cubic metres.

The study concludes that the ungauged lower middle Zambezi contributes about 3.8 x 109 m3/year, which is about 7 percent of the total inflows into Cahora Bassa. This amount is significant as it is equal to the evaporation losses from the lake surface. Furthermore, the study showed that flooding is most likely when water level in the lake reach 324 accompanied by high flows in the Luangwa, Msengezi and Mwanza Mtanda rivers.

Keywords: Cahora Bassa, Water balance, Catchment delineation, DEM Hydro-processing.