Why is the Akosombo Dam Reservoir spilling water
From last week, October 9, 2023, tracts of land and communities downstream the Akosombo and Kpong dams have been flooded.
This follows the second-stage spillage of the two dams used to generate about a third of Ghana’s electricity supply.
The Volta River Authority (VRA) started the controlled spillage at the Akosombo and Kpong dams, both in the Eastern Region, from September 15, 2023 following excess water in both reservoirs due to appreciable levels of rainfall.
The spillage has affected almost all the communities along the lower Volta Basin, resulting in widespread power cuts in the affected communities.
The GRIDCo sub-station in Fievie, Sogakope, in the Volta Region, has been inundated with floods, leading to the shutting down of the station.
With the absence of electricity, public installations, including hospitals in Sogakope and Adidome, are bearing the brunt of the flooding, leaving the lives of patients in danger.
High water levels in Akosombo dam
The maximum level of water in the Akosombo Dam should be 276 feet.
As of Thursday (Oct 12, 2023), the water level in the dam was 276.92 feet or 84.405 metres.
Before the spillage, the level was 272.50 feet or 83.058 metres.
Frequently asked questions about Akosombo Reservoir spillage
Quest 1: Why is VRA spilling?
Ans. 1: VRA is spilling because the water level in the reservoir has reached its safe operating level at this time of the year, so there is a need to release water from the reservoir to make room to be able to accommodate incoming flows. Without spilling, the water may overtop the dam and compromise its integrity.
Ques 2. Why is it necessary for VRA to spill water instead of using it to generate electricity?
Ans. 2: All the available units are currently being used to generate electricity, however the water that is coming into the reservoir is still higher than the norm and as such generation alone cannot take out all the water. The water level may overtop the dam and cause uncontrolled discharge into the downstream communities if timely controlled spilling is not done.
Ques 3. When was the last time Akosombo spilled water?
Ans.3: The last time Akosombo spilled was in 2010
Ques 4. What time of the year does spilling usually occur?
Ans. 4: We normally do not spill from the Akosombo dam, however if we have to spill in any given year, it is likely to happen from September to November, where a better understanding of the inflow quantity would have been determined.
Ques 5. How long does spilling last?
Ans 5. The length of a spill exercise is determined by the volume of inflows into the reservoir and the level of the reservoir before the start of the spill. It differs on a case-by-case basis.