KENGEN MOVES TO EXPLAIN ROLE OF DAMS IN MITIGATING FLOODS
MAY 2018…Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has come out to explain the role of the dams it uses for hydroelectric power generation along the Tana River in mitigating flooding downstream. This follows criticisms from a section of local leaders in areas affected by flooding downstream of KenGen’s stations.
At the same time, KenGen has set aside funds to help alleviate the suffering of those adversely affected by the floods in the areas near its installations in the Seven Forks particularly the Tana River, Garissa, and their immediate environs.
The company said besides generating hydro-electric power, the Seven Forks Cascade dams which include Masinga, Kamburu, Gitaru, Kindaruma and Kiambere have helped to regulate river levels and reduce flooding down-stream by storing significant volumes of water.
“We wish to inform Kenyans that we have been mitigating flooding through a water management plan for regulating the storage and discharges to ensure a healthy ecosystem and less flooding during heavy rains,” said KenGen MD, Mrs. Rebecca Miano.
Mrs. Miano explained that the water management plan entails lowering of the water levels in the dams during the dry season to create more storage space before the rainy season begins. This, she said, will mean that water flowing into the dams has to fill up the empty capacity first before the dams can overflow and channel the water back to the river course.
Mrs. Miano said, “This plan greatly delays the onset of flooding as well as the amounts of water that overflows the Kiambere dam after filling up, effectively reducing the intensity of flooding downstream.”
“The guiding principle of the company is to conduct its business in the most socially and environmentally responsible manner. We therefore wish to state that there has been no deliberate release of water by KenGen as has been erroneously stated by some people,” she said.
This year though, there were reports of heavy inflows into Tana River downstream of Kiambere dam, resulting in flooding in the lower Tana River Basin, before the dam started overflowing on 24th April 2018.
According to KenGen, the overflow which went on for five days was due to heavy inflows from rivers Mutonga, Kathita, Mara and Ena in addition to seasonal streams. The overflow stopped after the intensity of rains in the area between Kamburu and Kiambere dams subsided.
“We prayed for rains during the prolonged drought and God answered our prayers to bring rain, we now need to exercise extreme caution, especially those living near river whose banks are prone to overflowing. If necessary, take precautionary measures including moving to higher grounds,” said Mrs. Miano.
The company at the same time promised to help affected families within the Seven Forks cascade through provision of emergency relief supplies.
Mrs. Miano said the company is sensitive to human suffering and will do what it can to respond to the plight of families currently experiencing difficulties due to the ongoing rains.
Last month, the company issued an alert through the offices of county commissioners warning communities downstream of the Seven Forks dams, of impending floods due to heavy rains in Mount Kenya, and the Aberdare catchment areas.
The purpose of the warning was to request residents living on the banks of Tana River to move to higher ground for safety and avoid destruction of their property and potential loss of life.
“KenGen always issues flood alerts to communities downstream when it sees water levels rising, but not because gates are being opened. This is done in good faith in the hope that communities can take precautionary measures and avert flood-related losses and risks,” said Mrs. Miano.
“It is worth noting the unusual rainfall pattern prevailing this year, in that the Masinga dam is not yet full. The dam level was 1,052.94m at 06.00 hours on 7th May 2018 meaning that the reservoir has more than 3.5m to go before attaining full capacity. At the current inflow rates, the reservoir may attain full capacity by 16th May 2018.” Mrs. Miano added.
In normal circumstances, the dams fill from Masinga first and then gradually the successive dams, which according to KenGen has not been the case this year.
About Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited
Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited (KenGen) is the leading electric power generation company in Kenya, producing about 80 percent of electricity consumed in the country. The company, which is listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) utilizes various sources to generate electricity ranging from hydro, geothermal, thermal and wind. Hydro is the leading source, with an installed capacity of 819.9MW, which is 51 per cent of the company installed capacity. Geothermal comes second with 463.1MW and another 55.6MW from the innovative wellheads technology raising geothermal capacity to about 32% of the total installed capacity. However with the commissioning of the 280MW Geothermal project in Olkaria, geothermal now accounts for more than 50% of the electricity consumed by Kenyans.
With its wealth of experience, established corporate base and a clear vision, the company intends to maintain leadership in the liberalized electric energy sub-sector in Kenya and the Eastern Africa Region.