A Critical Water Management Situation - The Latest
 
   
       
 
The dry season is in full swing, but the Ruaha River is still just flowing past Msembe HQ .

The photos illustrate:

  • The over all picture of the state of the river at the bridge.
  • The actual width of flow .

As I drove from Jongomero to Msembe yesterday, I was heartened to see many elephants were still drinking from the water in the 'river'. This indicates that the water is still palatable and fresh enough for them to drink. As soon as the quality of the water deteriorates the elephants will dig holes in the sand, preferring the filtered cleaner water to that of the trickle on the surface.

Whilst this situation is not at all helpful for Mtera Dam it is at least a trickle of water for the animals and tourists to enjoy for the moment. However, as always, October is the date when the rice farmers start flooding paddies for planting seedlings so we shall see what happens then.

At the bridge 14 Sep 2011
At the bridge 14 Sep 2011
At the bridge 14 Sep 2011
At the bridge 14 Sep 2011
 
       
 
NOTES ON FLOW OF RUAHA RIVER 1994 TO 2004

1994
River dried up on NOV 17 ………………………average rainfall rivers full and flowing started flowing DEC 15
(RAINFALL NOT RECORDED)

1995
River dried up on OCT 19 ……………………..average rainfall rivers full and flowing started flowing DEC 23
RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 95/96………………388mm (incomplete records)

1996
River dried up on OCT 17 ……………………..generally very poor rainfall this year.
started flowing DEC 16 ……………………..Sand rivers hardly flowed.
RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 96/97……………….401mm

1997
River dried up on SEPT 20 ……………………. Major rainfall due to El ninio
started flowing NOV 22 ……………………. river burst its banks for 3 months
RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 97/98…………………815mm

1998
River dried up on NOV 18 ……………………..despite floods river still dried up
started flowing JAN 19 1999 ……………….rain very sporadic and late, it
stopped again FEB 12 1999 …………………looked like drought conditions.
Started flowing MARCH 9 1999………………no rain in Feb, river dried
…………………………………………………….up again. Good rain in March
FULL RIVER FLOWING MID APRIL 1999 …..and half of April

RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 98/99…………………392mm

1999
River dried up on SEPT 21…………………….poor rainfall, late and sporadic
Started flowing DEC 20…………………….in catchment areas.
FLOW WAS DUE TO LOCAL FLOODING SO DID NOT FLOW CONTINUOUSLY
UNTIL JAN 28 2000
RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 99/00……………..527mm

2000
SEPTEMBER 17 . …………………………RIVER STOPPED FLOWING
NOVEMBER 22……………………………RIVER STARTED FLOWING AGAIN
RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 00/01……………960mm

2001
Due to good rainfall, the local water-table is high, hence springs along the Ruaha are assisting the flow to the Park. It is not due to efforts to curb intake from the Usangu Basin.
.
NOVEMBER 12 ……………………………….RIVER STOPPED FLOWING
DECEMBER 23………………………………RIVER STARTED FLOWING.
TOTAL RAINFALL …………………………706mm

2002
Due to good rainfall water tables are high and springs along the great Ruaha flowed until October. All water since the end of May in the river is from these springs, not is from the Usangu basin.
NOVEMBER 2………………………………RIVER STOPPED FLOWING
DECEMBER 24……………………………..RIVER STARTED FLOWING
TOTAL RAINFALL…………………………619mm

2003
Despite the fact that we received reasonable rainfall in mm. The rain fell in large sporadic storms, as a result the vegetation suffered from the long gaps between rain showers. The water table rose a bit, but not as much as it would have done from constant rain. The river never rose to its full level, and the Usangu water only flowed for about one month. The river this year is almost totally from local run off not from the Usangu catchment area. The river this year dried up very early but what has made the problem worse is that the water table is now so low from repeated bad flows over the past few years. Hence it became impossible to dig for water by the end of Nov as the water table was below the rocks. This seriously affected the movements of the Elephants, they normally dig for water at this time of year and then the other animals use the holes they have dug. Hence the animals were desperate for water that they normally would get from the Elephants. The Elephants have moved towards the villages for their water during this time which has caused more problems.
SEPTEMBER 21……………………………RIVER STOPPED
DECEMBER 14…………………………….RIVER STARTED
DECEMBER 21…………………………….RIVER STOPPED
DECEMBER 30……………………………RIVER STARTED
JANUARY 5 (2004)………………………..RIVER STOPPED
JANUARY 16………………………………RIVER STARTED. Usangu water came down January 30th 2004.
TOTAL RAINFALL FOR 2003/04……….532mm

2004
The river reached its highest level in April 2004. This level was a foot lower than the marker rock up river from my camp. In previous years eg, from 1994- 2000 the river always consistently covered this rock by at least 2 feet. This would then flow continuously at this height for several months. Nowadays eg, 2001 -2004 this lower ‘high’ level only flows consistently for no more than a week. Once the local rain has stopped it slowly begins to go down, often keeping up the consistent rate of about 1cm per day.
July 2004. The river is now very shallow almost forming separate channels around the rocky areas. The gully by my camp has been dry for about 1 month.

2005/06 Stopped Oct 26th to started Jan 31st
2006 stopped October 15th - started November 26th. (Rain started early and was exceptionally heavy ending in May)
2007/08 I have lost this data due to computer problems.
2009 Flowed all year was an historic year, first time since 1992.
2010 October 3rd stopped - started March 20th

 
       

 

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