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Moz Life (File photo) / Pequenos Libombos
The Mozambican authorities on Tuesday closed the floodgates at the Pequenos Libombos reservoir on the Umbeluzi river, the Minister of Public Works Carlos Benete told reporters.
Speaking at a Wednesday press briefing alongside Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, Benete said this was a water saving measure, as the government attempts to increase the amount of water stored in the reservoir.
The pumping and treatment station on the Umbeluzi is the main source of drinking water for the Greater Maputo Metropolitan Area, and it depends on the regular flow of water out of the Pequenos Libombo dam.
But the level of the reservoir had fallen so low that, as from 10 January, the Maputo Regional Water Company (AdeM) began rationing the water supply to Maputo and Matola cities and Boane district. Each neighbourhood only receives water on alternate days.
The level of the reservoir fell at one point to around 13 per cent. Benete said the recent rains have allowed it to recover to around 20 per cent, although the government was still hoping for it to reach over 50 per cent.
Up until Tuesday, the reservoir was releasing 1.5 cubic metres of water a second into the Umbeluzi. With the floodgates closed, nothing at all is leaving the reservoir. Bonete told AIM this was possible because there is still water further downstream at Movene, which is supplying the treatment station.
When there is no longer any water at Movene, the Pequenos Libombos floodgates must re-open. This required careful coordination on the part of the water resource managers.
Bonete put the greater Maputo water deficit at 120,000 cubic metres a day. Some of this deficit could be met from ground water. There is potential to exploit ground water in Marracuene and Manhica districts, north of the capital, he said (but new water mains would be needed to carry this water to Maputo).
Another possibility would be to use water stored behind the Corumana dam on the Sabie river, in Moamba district. That would require construction of 100 kilometre long pipeline to carry the water to the Machava distribution centre in Matola.
Bonete said he had met with his Ministry’s partners on Monday, who expressed a willingness to help overcome the current water crisis. He said US$1.4 million is needed immediately, and short term measures would cost a further US$16 million. In the long term, solutions would cost over a billion dollars, including new dams, such as that planned at Moamba Major, on the Incomati River.Source: AIM