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Turkwel Dam overfill: Government orders residents to move to higher grounds

Turkwel Dam overfills.
An old photo of Turkwel Dam. On 16 October 2020, the dam’s water had reached 1,147.7 metres. This level leaves only 2.2 metres before the dam spills.

Only two metres remain before the dam overflows. And rainfall continues in Mount Elgon, where the dam gets its water. In addition, the dam’s water has passed its highest level ever reached. All these support the government’s warning.

The government expects Turkwel river to flood once Turkwel Dam overfills. The floods could remove about 300,000 residents from their homes, the government said.

Turkwel Dam is in north-western Kenya, in West Pokot county, about 550 kilometres from Nairobi.

Water Resources Authority said six areas could be flooded. It gave the the warning on 16 October 2020.

Those living in the following areas must move to higher lands.

    1. Katilu
    2. Kalemnyang
    3. Loyapat
    4. Nakwomoru
    5. Lodwar
    6. Lake Victoria shores shores

“Residents of areas likely to be affected by the floods are therefore notified to move to higher grounds and adhere to relevant flood alerts,” the authority said.

In addition, the water spill could damage pipes drawing water from Turkwel river. Also, it could destroy roads and bridges.

What is the state of the dam?

Turkwel Dam gets its water from Turkwel river. This river flows from Mount Elgon water catchment.

It is raining in the catchment area. As a result, the dam’s water has risen above the highest levels ever recorded eight years ago.

On 16 October 2020, the dam’s water had reached 1,147.7 metres. So, this level leaves only 2.2 metres before the dam spills.

Water Resources Authority said that most water catchments in the country have been receiving above normal rainfall since October 2019.

Why did government build the dam?

The dam was completed in 1991 to help irrigation, tourism, fisheries and generate electricity.

Turkwel Power Station creates 106 megawatts.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) says that the hydropower station is one of its major hydroelectric power stations.

The power station generates about 10 per cent of the national electricity supply.

About Kaburu Mugambi

Kaburu Mugambi is a veteran of business reporting having worked with two national newspapers in Kenya. He is a graduate of economics from Kenyatta University. He started his journalism career in 2000 with The People Daily as a business reporter before becoming a business sub-editor. He joined Daily Nation in 2004 as a business writer. He holds a post-graduate diploma in mass communication from University of Nairobi's School of Journalism and an MBA in marketing from the same university. In 2016, he founded Water Tower, a media firm focused on water, energy and climate. Its content cuts across water, energy and climate with emphasis on adaptation and sustainability.

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