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Egyptian Estimates Indicate Rise in Level of Water at GERD Lake

Egyptian Estimates Indicate Rise in Level of Water at GERD Lake

Saturday, 25 June, 2022 - 10:30
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry)

Egyptian estimates have indicated a rise in the level of water in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s lake as Addis Ababa is expected to start the third phase of filling the dam reservoir during the upcoming rainy season.

Cairo and Khartoum have repeatedly emphasized their rejection of all unilateral measures with regard to filling and operation of the GERD before reaching a legally binding agreement in a way that achieves the three countries’ common interests.

Ethiopian officials have recently stated that the third filling will take place in August and September.

Since 2011, the African Union-sponsored multiple rounds of talks between Cairo, Addis Ababa and Khartoum over the dam’s operation and filling have faltered.

The two downstream nations had also pushed for an agreement on the filling of the dam's reservoir, but Ethiopia went ahead without one in 2020.

According to the Egyptian water resources expert, Dr. Abbas Sharaky, Ethiopia has stored about eight billion cubic meters of water during the past two years and aims to store 18.5 billion cubic meters this year.

“The first step towards the third storage was to operate the turbine in February to drain the water that passes over the middle corridor, yet Ethiopia couldn’t achieve this goal due to the turbine’s failure to operate efficiently, prompting it to open one of the two drainage gates in March,” Sharaky explained in a post on his Facebook page on Thursday.

He affirmed that the middle corridor dried up within several days, and then it opened the second gate to empty a total of 50 million cubic meters, leading to a decrease in the lake’s stored water from eight to six billion cubic meters.

Ethiopia began recovering the two billion cubic meters on Thursday, he added, noting that this process will continue until the end of the first week of July.

Afterwards, the third storage will take place, and the quantity will depend on the extent of the engineering construction to elevate the two sides and the middle corridor.

Sharaky expected Ethiopia to store about five billion cubic meters, after which the water will begin to pass from the top of the middle corridor in the first week of August.

He stressed that this step represents a violation of the 2015 Declaration of Principles, the historical agreements, international norms and the September 15 United Nations Security Council Presidential Statement.

In this context, Ethiopia said it is keen to work in cooperation with all relevant countries to receive a fair share of the Nile Waters.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti considered the recent joint statement between Egypt and the European Union regarding GERD “biased and unacceptable.”

She stressed that the statement “is biased and unacceptable by all standards, and it aims to guarantee Egypt’s historical share of colonial agreements, which do not give the right to the rest of the Nile Basin countries.”

In light of the significance of the Nile as the only source of water resources and livelihood for Egypt in a context of its unique water scarcity, the EU and Egypt welcomed the UN Security Council Presidential Statement on GERD issued on September 15, 2021 regarding reaching a mutually acceptable and binding agreement on the filling and operations of GERD.

“Reaching such an agreement as soon as possible is a top priority for the EU and Egypt in order to protect Egypt’s water security and promote peace and stability in the wider region,” the statement read.

The EU affirmed it stands ready to support African Union-led talks and to play a more active role, if useful and desirable to all parties, by putting forward its rich experience in the management of shared water resources in line with international law.

With political will and support from the international community, tha statement said this dispute could be turned into an opportunity for many people. Millions of people who live in the Nile Basin stand to benefit from an agreement on the GERD which would create predictability, and open the door for foreign investments in energy, food security and water security.

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