Zimbabwe’s Tugwi-Makosi dam with a capacity of 1.8 billion cubic metres in Southern Masvingo, spilled for the first time on Saturday following continuous rains around the structure.
The historic event has spawned fears of flooding in Tugwi and Runde rivers downstream of the water amid concerns of increased water volumes.
The Tugwi-Makosi dam located at the confluence of Tugwi and Mukosi rivers along the border between Chivi and Masvingo districts has never hit 100 percent since its commissioning in May 2017. It remained at 72.4 percent in its first season of operation.
The spilling of Zimbabwe’s largest interior water body signifies that the dam has amassed sufficient water for irrigation. This aligns with plans by Zimbabwean government to create a perennial greenbelt in the Lowveld.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) tweeted: “For the first time since its commissioning in 2017, Tugwi-Mukosi is 100 percent full and spilling.”
Government and its development partners have been preparing for the worst after spilling of the dam amid reports that hundreds of families in southern Chivi, Chiredzi, Mwenezi and boundaries of Tugwi river might be severely impacted by the overflow.
ZINWA spokesperson Marjorie Munyonga affirms the impact of the ongoing spilling as it offers an opportunity to test the dam’s resilience.
“The spilling is also historic in that it has tested and confirmed the design capacity of the spillway and the dam structure,” Munyonga said.
“We are now able to test and confirm that the dam design is able to withstand its full capacity.”
She dismissed reports that at full capacity, Tugwi-Mukosi Dam was threatening to destroy the Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway.
Camps at Chingwizi and Chilonga Secondary School have been set up to provide temporary shelter for flood-stricken families.
Tugwi-Mukosi was initially billed to irrigate 25,000ha but advances in irrigation technology saw the figure ramped up to more than 40,000ha.
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