News: Ethiopia rejects Egypt’s proposal on the filling,operation of grand dam

The construction site of the multi-billion dollar Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Picture taken in June 2017.

Addis Abeba, September 18/2019 – Sileshi Bekele (PhD), Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity said Ethiopia has rejected Egypt’s latest proposal on the filling of multi-billion dollar Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

A tripartite meeting between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan took place in Cairo on Sunday and Monday for the first time in more than a year. Earlier reports show Egypt and Ethiopia were “at odds” over the issue.

Speaking to local media today, Dr. Sileshi said that Egypt has proposed its own plans which suggested the filling of the dam’s reservoir to be conducted within seven years period of time and a minimum guaranteed release of 40 billion meter cubic (BMC) of water every year as well as demand to maintain High Aswan Dam (HAD) at 165 meter above sea level.

A classified document obtained by Addis Standard discussing Ethiopia’s position on the demands made by Egypt (refereed as “Technical aspects of the agreement on the Filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD)”, submitted on 1st of ‘ August 2019″) rejected the demands and provided explanations on Ethiopia’s position.

Accordingly, Ethiopia rejected Egypt’s proposal demanding it “to commit to release the ‘natural average flow’ of the Blue Nile measured at the GERD site because it was “based on the recorded flow of the Blue Nile for the period 1911 to 2018.” During this period, the Blue Nile flow fluctuated between a minimum of approximately 29 BCM (in 1984) to a maximum of 69 BCM (in 1917)’ The average annual reliable flow for this 108 years is approximately 35 BCM.”

“The Blue Nile has no longer been in natural flow state since the time Ethiopia started implementing irrigation g projects on the Blue Nile ,such as the Fincha Hydro-power  the Tana-Beles, the Chara-Chara weir etc. Therefore demanding n “natural average flow” be guaranteed means denying the existence of these current uses (projects),” the document said.

Ethiopia also rejected the 40 BMC annual release of water on the bases that “such stringent condition of annual flow release is not acceptable to Ethiopia as it prolongs the filling of the GERD.”

With regard to Egypt’s demand “to maintain High Aswan Dam (HAD) at 165 meter above sea level”, Ethiopia rejected the demand saying “this request is technically impractical and is tantamount to agreeing to hold the operation of the GERD hostage to Egyptian water use downstream. Further since Ethiopia cannot control Egyptian water use/withdrawal from HAD, agreeing to this demand means ending up in perpetual ‘water debt.'”

“The request by Egypt is not practical and, therefore, Ethiopia outright rejects it,” the document reads and concluded that when all the elements of the Egyptian proposal are considered in aggregate, the commutative effect will result in: a) Prolong the filing of GERD indefinitely; b) GERD will primarily be there to compensate for Egyptian water deficit, serving as second backup reservoir to HAD; c) GERD will not deliver its economic return to Ethiopia; d) The proposed Permanent coordination Mechanism infringes on Ethiopia’s sovereignty; e) Ethiopia will forfeit its rights to equitable and reasonable utilization of the Blue Nile water resources. AS


Editor’s Note: The headline of this story has been amended from “outright rejects” to the current one “rejects”.

A section in which the average annual flow for this 108 years was mentioned as “approximately 49 BCM” has also been changed to “The average annual reliable flow for this 108 years is approximately 35 BCM.” We have erroneously misquoted the document and we regret the error.

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