Sun, 18 Jul 2021 - 09:23 GMT
FILE - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) - Reuters
CAIRO – 18 July 2021: The administration of Sudan's Roseires Dam announced Saturday that the streaming of the Blue Nile is still declining so as only 50 percent of the usual annual inflow has arrived saying that the reason is the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Roseires Dam administration warned that the delay in the negotiations resumption puts the Sudanese hydropower plant in peril.
Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas reiterated in a message to his Ethiopian counterpart on July 7 that the information provided by Ethiopia on the second filling of GERD is worthless.
Abbas added that the second filling of the dam is a threat to Sudan for its possible harmful effect on Roseires Dam, a major source of electricity to the country. That is because the amount of water intended to be filled in the reservoir exceeds the capacity of the two functioning gates, which means that the rest will pass above the dam itself when the reservoir is full.
It is noted that the reservoir's capacity is 74 billion cubic meters; however, just 4.9 billion cubic meters were reserved last year while only four out of the planned 13.5 billion cubic meters are expected to be held this year.
That is because the dam's wall is not high enough. To carry out the second filling, Ethiopia had to elevate the middle wall releasing a quantity of the water held last year so that the reservoir is estimated to have just eight billion cubic meters after the second filling. The wall should have been raised to a height of 595 meters but it was heightened to 573 solely making the quantity of water that can be filled in the meantime less.
Further, until present, Ethiopia has not succeeded in operating the turbines to generate electricity. It is salient to mention that the original plan included installing 16 turbines to generate 6,000 megawatts but the figures had to be reduced to 13 turbines generating 3,000 megawatts.
The Sudanese minister stressed that building such a massive dam without conducting basic studies to determine the social and environmental impact is a blatant violation of the international norms and practices.
Abbas asserted that the exchange of information must be within a legal binding agreement that tackles the fears of Sudan, safety conditions pertinent to the dam, and assessment of its social and environmental impact.
The minister pointed out to a message by Ethiopia to Sudan in 2020 saying that a legal binding agreement is a pre-requisite to exchange information on the dam. Hence, he expressed hope that Ethiopia accepts Sudan's proposal to resume talks as soon as possible.
The talks have been suspended since March as negotiations since 2011 have been to no avail given Ethiopia's insistence to make the deal not legally binding.
Spokesperson of the Sudanese Negotiation Team Over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Ambassador Omar El Farouq highlighted in a TV interview on July 11 that the first filling of the dam in 2020 caused Khartoum to remain without water supply for several days as plants got out of service, and that Ethiopia is putting his country at the same risk this year again through the second filling.
The problem does not lie in the filling itself but in the lack of a legal binding agreement, which would ensure Sudan is getting from Ethiopia detailed information and daily data on the size and levels of water flowing. The official underscored the salience of such information on the safety of Sudanese dams saying that the information provided by Ethiopia are very brief and not sufficient.
Farouq explained that the capacity of GERD is 74 billion cubic meters while that of Sudan's Roseires is just seven billion cubic meters. Yet, the latter produces 80 percent of electricity in Sudan, and is essential for 20 million Sudanese living on agriculture. Hence, the change of water levels will have a very negative impact on the dam, if not coordinated.
The official pointed out that during the negotiations an agreement was reached on 90 percent of the technical aspects but the problem is that Ethiopia is not willing to sign a legal binding agreement.