Ethiopia ‘begins filling’ Nile dam reservoir

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The dam’s development, seen right here in December 2019, started in 2011

Ethiopia has began filling the reservoir behind the disputed Grand Renaissance dam on the River Nile – a day after talks with Egypt and Sudan ended with out settlement, officers say.

Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele confirmed the most recent satellite tv for pc pictures exhibiting water ranges rising.

Ethiopia sees the hydroelectric undertaking as essential for its financial development.

But Egypt and Sudan, that are downstream, concern the big dam will vastly scale back their entry to water.

Years of fraught negotiations have failed to succeed in a consensus on how and when to fill the reservoir, and the way a lot water it ought to launch.

On Wednesday, Mr Seleshi advised Ethiopian state broadcaster EBC that the filling operation had begun, including: “The development of the dam and the filling of the water go hand in hand.”

His feedback come after satellite tv for pc pictures taken between 27 June and 12 July present a gradual enhance within the quantity of water being held again by the dam.

The pictures precipitated a wave of pleasure in Ethiopia over the $4bn (£3.2bn) Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) undertaking – however precipitated concern in Egypt.

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A big reservoir is starting to type behind the dam

12 July 2020

Satellite image showing the River Nile from above in northwestern Ethiopia, 12 July

26 June 2020

Satellite image showing the River Nile from above in northwestern Ethiopia, 26 June

When absolutely operational, the dam will change into the biggest hydro-electric plant in Africa, offering energy to some 65 million Ethiopians, who at present lack an everyday electrical energy provide. However, Egypt will get nearly all of its water from the Nile and fears the dam will scale back provides.

How will the dam be stuffed?

The minister’s announcement may give the impression that filling up the dam can be like filling up a shower – and Ethiopia can activate and off a faucet at will.

But the reality is that the wet season, which started in June and lasts till September, will fill the dam naturally.

Given the stage that the development is at “there may be nothing that may cease the reservoir from filling to the low level of the dam”, Dr Kevin Wheeler, who has been following the Gerd undertaking since 2012, advised the BBC.

From the beginning of the method in 2011, the dam has been constructed across the Blue Nile because it continued to movement by means of the large constructing website.

The Gerd in construction

Reuters

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Africa’s largest hydropower undertaking

  • Construction startedon the Blue Nile in 2011

  • The $4bn valuehas been partly met by residents shopping for bonds

  • The energy generatedwill rework the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians

  • Egypt is frightenedbecause it nearly totally depends on the water from the Nile

  • It sits downstreamof the dam and desires a assured movement of water

  • Negotiationshave thus far failed to succeed in a deal on some key points

Source: Reuters/BBC

Builders may work on the huge constructions on both aspect of the river with none downside. In the center, throughout the dry season, the river was diverted by means of culverts, or pipes, to permit that part to be constructed up.

The backside of the center part is now full and the river is at present flowing by means of bypass channels on the foot of the wall.

As the affect of the wet season begins to be felt on the dam website, the quantity of water that may move by means of these channels will quickly be lower than the quantity of water coming into the world, which means that it’ll again up additional and add to the lake that may sit behind the dam, Dr Wheeler mentioned.

The Ethiopian authorities can shut the gates on a number of the channels to extend the quantity of water being held again however this might not be mandatory, he added.

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How lengthy will it take to fill?

In the primary yr, the Gerd will retain 4.9 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water, taking it as much as the peak of the bottom level on the dam wall, permitting Ethiopia to check the primary set of generators. On common, the full annual movement of the Blue Nile is 49bcm.

In the dry season the lake will recede a bit, permitting for the dam wall to be constructed up and within the second yr an extra 13.5bcm can be retained.

By that point, the water stage ought to have reached the second set of generators, which means that the movement of water will be managed extra intentionally.

Explore the Nile with 360 video

a 360-degree version of the Damming the Nile VR series from BBC News

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Join Alastair Leithead and his workforce, travelling in 2018 from the Blue Nile’s supply to the ocean – by means of Ethiopia and Sudan into Egypt.

Ethiopia says it should take between 5 to seven years to refill the dam to its most flood season capability of 74bcm. At that time, the lake that can be created may stretch again some 250km (155 miles) upstream.

Between every subsequent flood season the reservoir can be lowered to 49.3bcm.

Egypt, which nearly totally depends on the Nile for its water wants, is anxious that in most years of the filling it isn’t assured a particular quantity of water.

And as soon as the filling stage is over, Ethiopia is reluctant to be tied to a determine of how a lot water to launch.

In years of regular or above common rainfall that shouldn’t be an issue, however Egypt is nervous about what may occur throughout extended drought.

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