Water in Tarbela to touch dead level next week

Updated March 17, 2019

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This aerial view shows water leaving the Tarbela Dam spillway in Tarbela.—AFP/File
This aerial view shows water leaving the Tarbela Dam spillway in Tarbela.—AFP/File

LAHORE: Water level at the country’s mega reservoir — Tarbela Dam — is likely to touch its dead level by the end of next week as its conservation level reached to 1,393.35 feet on Friday, just 1.35 feet away from 1,392 feet, its minimum operating level.

However, the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) sees the situation as not worrisome as it expects that the dam will attain a considerable water level as soon as snow melting starts due to increase in temperature by next month and beginning of monsoon in July.

“Actually the reservoir had a sufficient level of water in January onward due to rainfalls. So from Jan 29, we transferred rainfall’s benefit to the provinces by reducing water shortages from 38 to 32 per cent. The provinces (Punjab and Sindh) drew their due shares accordingly. And despite the increase in releases to the provinces, the reservoir still has 1.35 feet water over its dead level,” an Irsa spokesman explained while talking to Dawn.

Situation doesn’t worry Irsa, as it’s likely to improve with beginning of snow melting

At present, he said, Sindh and southern Punjab did not need water as wheat crop there was heading to maturity. The authority, according to the official, is releasing water these days to irrigate crops in central and upper (north) Punjab from River Chenab and Mangla Dam. However, besides this, water supply for drinking and other purposes also continues to the two provinces.

“The dam should have touched its dead level by the end of last month or so. But despite the increase in releases to the provinces, it is yet to touch this level. So it is not any sort of abnormality,” the official claimed.

He said Irsa expected arrival of maximum water in Tarbela Dam due to melting of huge snow in the northern areas of the country, including many low lying places. Snow melting is expected to start by the first week of April subject to increase in temperature. So there would be enormous water in the dam in April and onward since 70 to 80 per cent of its filling depends on snow melting. “The remaining filling of the dam (20pc to 30pc) will be due to monsoon in July,” the official said.

Wapda’s water report

Meanwhile the Water and Development Authority (Wapda) issued its water report on Friday. The report presents following scenario.

Rivers: Indus at Tarbela: inflows 19,000 cusecs and outflows 200,00 cusecs; Kabul at Nowshera: inflows 11,200 cusecs and outflows 11,200 cusecs; Jhelum at Mangla: inflows 22,100 cusecs and outflows 20,000 cusecs; Chenab at Marala: inflows 15,300 cusecs and outflows 4,000 cusecs.

Barrages: Jinnah: inflows 36,300 cusecs and outflows 31,300 cusecs; Chashma: inflows 31,000 cusecs and outflows 32,600cusecs; Taunsa: inflows 29,800 cusecs and outflows 25,800 cusecs; Panjnad: inflows 8,600 cusecs and outflows 1,600 cusecs; Guddu: inflows 34,000 cusecs and outflows 30,800 cusecs; Sukkur: inflows 23,500 cusecs and outflows 3,200 cusecs, Kotri: inflows 7,400 cusecs and outflows nil.

Reservoirs (level and storage): Tarbela: minimum operating level 1,392 feet, present level 1,393.35 feet, maximum conservation level 1,550 feet, live storage on Friday 0.012 million acre feet (MAF).

Mangla: minimum operating level 1,050 feet, present level 1,126.70 feet, maximum conservation level 1,242 feet, live storage 0.972 MAF.

Chashma: minimum operating level 638.15 feet, present level 638.15 feet, maximum conservation level 649 feet, live storage nil.

“The inflows and outflows of River Indus at Tarbela and Chashma, River Kabul at Nowshera and River Jhelum at Mangla have been reflected as mean flows of 24 hours, whereas the other flows have been gauged at 6.00am on Friday,” reads the report.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2019