Articles | Volume 378
Proc. IAHS, 378, 67–72, 2018
Proc. IAHS, 378, 67–72, 2018

Post-conference publication 29 May 2018

Post-conference publication | 29 May 2018

Optimal water resource allocation modelling in the Lowveld of Zimbabwe

Delight Mhiribidi1, Joel Nobert1, Webster Gumindoga2, and Donald T. Rwasoka3 Delight Mhiribidi et al.
  • 1Department of Water Resources Engineering, College of Engineering and Technology, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • 2Department of Civil Engineering, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP167, Mt Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • 3Upper Manyame Subcatchment Council, Box 1892, Harare, Zimbabwe

Abstract. The management and allocation of water from multi-reservoir systems is complex and thus requires dynamic modelling systems to achieve optimality. A multi-reservoir system in the Southern Lowveld of Zimbabwe is used for irrigation of sugarcane estates that produce sugar for both local and export consumption. The system is burdened with water allocation problems, made worse by decommissioning of dams. Thus the aim of this research was to develop an operating policy model for the Lowveld multi-reservoir system.

The Mann Kendall Trend and Wilcoxon Signed-Rank tests were used to assess the variability of historic monthly rainfall and dam inflows for the period 1899–2015. The WEAP model was set up to evaluate the water allocation system of the catchment and come-up with a reference scenario for the 2015/2016 hydrologic year. Stochastic Dynamic Programming approach was used for optimisation of the multi-reservoirs releases.

Results showed no significant trend in the rainfall but a significantly decreasing trend in inflows (p < 0.05). The water allocation model (WEAP) showed significant deficits ( ∼  40 %) in irrigation water allocation in the reference scenario. The optimal rule curves for all the twelve months for each reservoir were obtained and considered to be a proper guideline for solving multi- reservoir management problems within the catchment. The rule curves are effective tools in guiding decision makers in the release of water without emptying the reservoirs but at the same time satisfying the demands based on the inflow, initial storage and end of month storage.