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The Department of Water and Sanitation in collaboration with Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) member states are developing the ‘Run-of-River Operating Rules’ meant to regulate the abstraction of water from the Chobe-Zambezi River.
Botswana secured access to abstract 495 million m³ of water per year from the Zambezi River Basin through a Zambezi Ministers of Water Meeting that was held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in May 2010. This was upon following the requisite six months’ notification period of the Watercourses States which started through a Meeting that was held in July 2009 in Maputo, Mozambique.
The abstraction is meant to support domestic water demand, commercial agriculture and industrial demand with about 225 million m³ going to domestic and industrial use. The remaining 270 million m³ will go to the Integrated Agro-Commercial development Project to irrigate a parcel of land at Pandamatenga to improve food security.
Speaking during the Zambezi River Basin Commission Technical Committee (ZAMTEC) site visit and joint monitoring exercise in Kasane this week, Chobe Zambezi Scheme Operating Rules Project Manager, Mookamedi Masie stated that the operating rules will ensure that there is sustainable abstraction of water from the river. He stated that the rules will also ensure availability of water for downstream users and maintain their assurance of supply especially during low flows.
He added that the principles supporting the operating rules include regulating abstractions, maintaining of supply to users and sustaining supply of downstream users especially during low flows.
Masie said the operating rules also intend to support the reduction cost of operations by optimising pumping in relation to low flows. He further said the rules will cater for in stream and environmental flow requirements with particular interest to Victoria Falls and hydro power generation stream.
For his part, Zambia Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation, Joe Kalusa said there is a need for collaboration between ZAMCOM member states to ensure that they all benefit from the Chobe-Zambezi River as a shared resource. He noted that their visit to Botswana for a joint monitoring exercise is very important because it will enable them to see whether the Chobe Zambezi- Water Transfer Scheme project can be viable for Botswana.
Kalusa said Botswana is ambitious about abstracting water from the Chobe-Zambezi River and as a Zambia they came to see whether it would be viable to support that.
‘‘Our interest is to ensure that Botswana abstract water which is a needed resource for agriculture and domestic use, Zambia is extracting water from the river for commercial, agriculture and electrical use, we have to support each other in terms of scientific aspects,’’ he said.
Botswana has engaged Consultancy Services for the Development of Operating Rules for the Chobe Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme and the Integrated Agro-Commercial Development. The consultancy is expected to carry out project initiation and planning, review and update existing hydrological assessments, run off operating rules and hydrologic/hydraulic model.
ZAMTEC is a technical committee of the Zambezi River Basin Commission, which is made up of all eight basin member states being Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.