On a single day, Pakistan’s primary reservoirs – Mangla and Tarbela dams, along with Chashma Barrage – have all achieved their peak capacity, a notable accomplishment.
This milestone, which took place on August 17th, has boosted the collective water storage to an impressive 13.443 million acre-feet (MAF), sparking hope for bountiful crop harvests in the ongoing Kharif season and the upcoming Rabi season
The Indus River System Authority (IRSA) celebrated this as a historic event, where all three reservoirs reached their maximum conservation levels (MCLs) simultaneously. This achievement was credited to well-coordinated efforts and effective water management. The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), responsible for reservoir operations, viewed this event as a positive sign for Pakistan’s agriculture and hydroelectric power generation.
Currently, Mangla Dam holds 7.356 million acre-feet (MAF) at a maximum conservation level of 1,242 feet, followed by Tarbela’s 5.809 MAF at 1,550 feet, and Chashma’s 0.278 MAF at 649 feet. The synchronized filling of these reservoirs enhances water availability for agriculture and meets inter-seasonal transfer needs.
This development comes amidst challenges posed by hydrological uncertainties due to climate change and technical constraints. IRSA acknowledged the risk of reduced water flows in early Kharif 2023. Nevertheless, timely and widespread rains in upper and lower catchment areas, especially in the eastern rivers, contributed to effective management and regulation of provincial water releases.
The substantial water presence in the downstream areas of the eastern rivers – Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej – after a decade-long absence has reduced the necessity for discharges from Mangla Dam. This resurgence in water flow signifies a shift in climate and flow patterns, highlighting the importance of vigilance among communities residing near old riverbeds.
This achievement also aligns with the approaching maximum levels in Indian reservoirs along the Sutlej and Beas rivers at Bhakra and Pong storage facilities. This synchronization highlights the interdependence of water management in the region.
The attainment of full capacity in Pakistan’s primary reservoirs brings fresh optimism for abundant crop yields during both the Kharif and Rabi seasons. This augurs positively for the crucial agricultural sector, which holds a central role in the country’s economy