ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia said on Sunday the flow of River Abbay will go uninterrupted during the second filling of its dam currently under construction on the main tributary of River Nile.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed the filling of the reservoir of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will be carried out during July/August, 2021.
The announcement came after the construction of the two bottom outlets of the $5 billion flagship hydro dam ended on Wednesday.
The construction of the two bottom outlets – with the capacity of passing entire annual flow of Abbay in a year – are “completed, tested and operational,” declared Dr. Seleshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy.
The outlets will provide assurances of flow of water to downstream “at no time water interrupted”, said Dr. Seleshi, adding 13 more outlets are under construction that will add “huge capacity of downstream release”.
Last rainy season, Ethiopia held 4.9bcm for its hydro dam of – a mega dam with 70bcm capacity reservoir and capable of generating 6,475 megawatts of electricity.
Authorities are now planning to carry out the second filling and retain water during the country’s longest rainy season that runs between June and August. The preparation includes clearing of forest where the water will be stored.
“In the rainy season, the two bottom outlets guarantee downstream flow while filling takes place as inflow exceeding outflow at reservoir,” Dr. Seleshi. “As such GERD is important for power generation for the needs” of the East African nation.
Authorities expect to store about 1.6 billion cubic meters of water during the filling amid strong opposition from Egypt and Sudan.
Both countries have already declined Ethiopia’s latest offer to data sharing during second filling while putting out mixed messages on the ongoing African Union-led peaceful talks.
Prime Minister Abiy reiterated that his country has no intention of harming the lower riparian states while developing Abbay River for its needs.
Seleshi also expressed the same stand saying the dam “removes flood risk in Sudan like the one occurred last season, saves losses of water in flood plains”.
The “GERD is not a concern for harm”, he said adding the dam is “designed smart as filling and construction go in parallel, constructed as high quality and state of the art modern facility”.
Ethiopia broke ground for its $5 billion flagship hydro dam project in 2011. Since then, the negotiations with Sudan and Egypt have failed to make a breakthrough on reaching an agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.
The two lower riparian states of the Nile river are pressing for the need to sign what they describe was “binding agreement” on the rules and procedures of filling and operation while Ethiopia maintains a guideline would suffice.
A 2015 Declaration of Principles signed between the three countries recognizes the need for Ethiopia to carry on with construction while the three countries engage in trilateral negotiations. The second-year filling is part of the ongoing construction as it enables Ethiopia to test its turbines.
[Featured Image MoWIE/Youtube]