By Ibrahim Kasita
THE Directorate of Water Development (DWD) has told engineers at Kiira and Nalubaale power stations to reduce the amount of water discharged from Lake Victoria to avoid worsening the power crisis.
The directorate wants the water outflow at the Owen Falls Dam reduced to 750 cubic metres per second from 905 according to Agreed Curve Policy to prevent the lake levels from declining.
The policy, which was adopted in 1950s, permits 563 cubic metres per second of water to be released. But that is not enough to run the turbines for sufficient hydro-power generation.
In February 2006, the water outflow was reduced from over 1,000 cubic metres to 850. In August, it was reduced to 750 cubic metres. Early this year, the outflow was increased to 905 cubic metres.
The energy ministry had requested the directorate to allow a water outflow of 905 cubic metres per second to generate the 145MW of power because the lakeâ€™s water level had increased to 11.23m.
â€œThe DWD is monitoring and reviewing the effect of the current discharge on the lake to see whether it maintains the same water levels,â€ John Mugyenzi, the managing director of the Uganda Electricity Generation Company, said.
â€œThis will continue until the end of July. Standards and rigorous procedures on how much water is released for how much power production are set,â€ Mugyenzi added.
However, sources in the power sector argued that a drastic move to the Agreed Curve will put the sector and economy in a power crisis.
The Agreed Curve, they said, cannot be relied upon to plan for optimum electricity supply.
â€œA decision to reduce hydro-power production should take into account the burden of expensive thermal power as an alternative,â€ they warned.
â€œThermal power should not be seen as a substitute for hydro-power in an effort to move towards the Agreed Curve. This is because the result to the consumer will be a burden of expensive thermal power with no improvement in the power supply,â€ they observed.
â€œEven when the outflows were lowered, the lake continued to decline further, which demonstrated that though the Agreed Curve is a good outflow management tool, it is not a tool for lake recovery.â€
Water outflow reduction to 850 cubic metres per second flows started in February when the lake level was at 10.50m but the level continued to drop until it reached 10.48m.