Botswana’s Gaborone Dam Overflows After 10 Years

It does not require the wisdom of a sphinx to understand why three weeks ago there was no life at Gaborone Dam. As they put it “water is a source of life” and metaphorically speaking if there is no water there is no life. After more than a week of constant heavy rain in most parts of the country especially in the south, levels at Gaborone Dam are at full capacity and over spilling while the rain continues.

The heart-stopping excitement of watching Gaborone Dam filling to the brim brewed last week when the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) announced that dam levels were nearing the 70 per cent mark, an amazing record since 10 years ago when a 100 percent mark was reached.

Prior to this announcement the Department of Meteorological Services had alerted the nation to be cautious of flooding following a tropical cyclone that burst into the Southern African coastal zones. The infamous cyclone known as Dineo left a trail of destruction and loss of human life in Mozambique and some parts of South Africa.

Botswana was caught by Cyclone Dineo’s grip bringing heavy rainfall that resulted in flooding in areas such as Ramotswa and some parts of the north east.

The rains became a blessing to the tributaries down south especially Notwane River which mainly feeds the dam together with Taung, Metsimaswaane and Nnywane rivers amongst others.

Ironically Gaborone Dam was declared officially dry last year around the same month. According to WUC’s spokesperson, Matidah Mmipi, 2015 was the worst year on dam levels records since it was commissioned.

By February 2015, only 1.3 per cent was left of the dam with a carrying capacity of 141.4 million cubic metres which loosely translates to over 141 billion litres of water. Technically a dam fails at five per cent capacity.

Back in the years between 1981 and 1985 severe droughts were experienced in the south resulting in the raising of the dam wall.

In 2000, an over spill was recorded and the period between 2000 and 2006 resulted in levels dropping to 16 per cent. The last full capacity record was in 2007.

On Saturday afternoon, hope was finally restored to many Batswana after the majestic dam finally hit the 100 per cent mark.

After several years of despair following frequent drought occurrences communities in the greater Gaborone region are on the edge of real hope that change from the dark times of water rationing will now be a thing of the past.

The daily peak demand of the greater Gaborone is 145 million litres per day and Ms Mmipi explains that the Gaborone water works pumps about 85 million litres from Gaborone Dam while Bokaa pumps out 92 million litres and the North South Carrier pipeline supplies 60 million litres of water daily.

The good news is all dams up north that feed into the NSC pipeline are all above their full capacities.

However, while the rain has been a blessing, WUC has urged communities living within the vicinity of the dam to be on high alert as disaster management teams remain on standby. Only roads and property were reportedly swept away by heavy rains last week.

Seated above the dam wall and just over the spill way, the best part of this memorable Saturday afternoon was when the sun was being swallowed by the western skies on the other side of the city.

On the edge of the dam water lilies now full of life, float in their own reflections. At this moment the small fish and crabs swim downstream against a heavy tide pushing them out of the water.

They slap their tails against the thick reeds in the dam in an effort to survive. As I observe this, a fully grown African fish eagle flies past signaling its early retirement to its nest.

We also take to our cars and allow other nocturnal creatures to enjoy the lush vegetation around the dam.

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Source: Botswana Daily News

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