Ethiopia dam reservoir filling as talks stall
July 16 2020 12:08 AM
Renaissance Dam
A handout satellite image shows a closeup view of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia.

Reuters /Addis Ababa

The reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is filling, its water minister said yesterday, a day after talks with Sudan and Egypt on the giant Blue Nile hydroelectric project stalled.
Sudan and Egypt both fear the $4bn dam could lead to water shortages in their own nations.
“The construction of the dam and the filling of the water go hand in hand,” Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele said in televised comments, a transcript of which was provided to Reuters by his office. “The filling of the dam doesn’t need to wait until the completion of the dam.”
The water level had increased from 525 metres to 560 metres, he said.
The comments by Seleshi did not address whether Ethiopia had closed the gates of the dam.
The area has also seen recent heavy rainfall.
“My understanding of his statement is that they have not closed the outlets,” said Dina Mufti, a spokesman for the foreign ministry.
Seleshi had tweeted earlier in the day: “The inflow into the reservoir due to heavy rainfall and runoff exceeded the outflow and created natural pooling. This continues until overflow is triggered soon.”
The minister, his spokesman, and the spokeswoman for the prime minister’s office did not return calls seeking clarification.
The project has raised concerns in Egypt that already limited Nile waters, which its 100mn people depend on heavily, will be further restricted.
The Blue Nile is a tributary of the Nile from which Egypt gets 90% of its fresh water.
Egypt asked Ethiopia for urgent clarification on whether it had started filling the reservoir, the foreign ministry said.
On Tuesday, talks between the three nations to regulate the flow of water from the dam failed to reach agreement. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Secretary General Antonio Guterres had urged the three countries to “seize the opportunity in the coming days to bridge remaining differences and reach a mutually beneficial agreement for their peoples”.

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