Loan secured for Gerbi Dam, decrease in surface water blamed for water interruptions

After long discussions with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, China’s Eximbank has agreed to loan Ethiopia USD 1.5 billion to construct the Gerbi Dam, which should generate 73,000 cubic meters of water per day to supply Addis Ababa.

The House of People’s Representatives approved the loan in its session held last week. The Chinese construction company CGCOC, which previously relocated an 8km water pipeline in Addis Ababa to construct the Light Rail will construct the dam. The project is expected to take three years.

The dam has been conceptualized for the last 50 years but historically it has been very difficult to access finance for the project. The dam which will be constructed on Gerbi River, located north east of Addis Ababa at a tributary of the Abay River, could generate water for 20 years and is expected to curb water supply interruption on the north side of the city.

“We are happy because we have been digging many wells but have not been able to meet the demand of water on the north side of the city and now that we have obtained the loan it will help us fulfill the high demand of the people,” Fikadu Zeleke deputy head of AAWSA’s water supply and distribution said. He added that a study of Sibilu by AAWSA is also underway and a dam will soon be built on the Sibilu River.

The dam will have the capacity of generating 480,000 cubic meters of water per day. If all goes as expected interruption in water supply could be totally stamped out, according to the authority’s forecast.

Currently the city of Addis Ababa gets 600,000 cubic meters of water per day from both surface water and ground water sources. There are three main surface water sources: Gefersa, Legedadi and Dire dams. Ground water comes from the Akaki well field and from springs and wells near Addis. There are two conventional water treatment facilities in Legedadi and Gefersa which supplies the city with treated water.

In other news AAWSA blamed electric interruption and the deceasing amount of surface water for the lack of water supply around the city recently. The authority takes 33 percent of the city’s electric power for pumps to move water from the surface, the agency said that power interruption caused significant water service interruptions.

Because the power has been going on and off AAWSA has purchased 30 generators which have consumed 250,000 liters of gas in the past six month alone.

The authority stated the pumps had the incorrect depth setting. The Akaki water wells attempted to dig 243,000 cubic meters at the wrong digging depth which decreased the amount of water being obtained from surface water.

AAWSA says that it is working with consultants to put the pump setting depth on the right level.