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Estimating runoff from ungauged catchments for reservoir water balance in the Lower Middle Zambezi Basin

W Gumindoga, H Makurira, M Phiri, I Nhapi


The Lower Middle Zambezi Basin is sandwiched between three hydropower dams; Kariba, Kafue (Itezhi-tezhi) and Cahora Bassa. The operation of the upstream dams impacts on the inflows into the downstream Cahora Bassa Dam which, in turn, affects the area inundated upstream of the Cahora Bassa Dam. This study applied a rainfall-runoff model (HEC-HMS) and GIS techniques to estimate both the gauged and ungauged runoff contribution to the water balance of Cahora Bassa. The rivers considered in the study are the Zambezi, Kafue, Luangwa, Chongwe, Musengezi and Manyame. Missing data were generated using the mean value infilling method. The DEM hydro-processing technique was used to determine the spatial extent of the ungauged area. A hydrological model, HEC- HMS, was used to simulate runoff from the ungauged catchments. Results from the study show that the ungauged catchment contributes about 12% of the total estimated inflows into the Cahora Bassa Dam. Averaged results over 30 years show total inflows of 71.73 x 109 m3/yr, total outflows of 52.25 x 109 m3/ yr and a residual storage of 20 x 109 m3/yr. The study successfully estimated the water balance of the Middle Zambezi Basin which, in turn, may help to inform the operation of the Cahora Bassa Dam and management of artificial floods in the basin.

Keywords: Cahora Bassa, DEM hydroprocessing, HEC-HMS, remote sensing, reservoir operation, runoff simulation
AJOL African Journals Online