KenGen has started discharging water from Masinga Dam into River Tana after the Masinga Dam filled to capacity. Residents downstream have been urged to move to safer ground. PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO | NATION MEDIA GROUPKenGen has started discharging water from Masinga Dam into River Tana after the Masinga Dam filled to capacity. Residents downstream have been urged to move to safer ground. PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
By MAC OTANI

The country’s largest hydro power generating dam, Masinga, started overflowing Wednesday evening to reduce water that has reached optimum levels following heavy downpour experienced in the country.

Kenya power producer KenGen has assured that the letting out of the water is being done under a controlled process but warned communities downstream to take precaution.

KenGen issued flood alerts warning communities living downstream of the Masinga dam located in the Seven Forks cascade to move to safer ground as they discharge 70 cubic metres per second.

KenGen Managing Director and CEO Rebecca Miano said the Masinga dam water level had risen to 1,056.68 meters past the maximum water level of 1,056.50 meters.

“When the dams are full, the water does not overflow over the brim, but through built-in structures, designed to direct the water back to the river bed in a controlled manner,” clarified Mrs Miano.

KenGen said it will manage all its dams to mitigate flooding downstream and also generate required electric power.

Mrs Miano also said KenGen dams are designed to curb the risk of their walls collapsing due to high inflows and they are regularly inspected to comply with relevant local and international standards.

The rains affected Eastern Hydros dams Masinga, Kamburu, Gitaru, Kindaruma, Kiambere, which draw water from Tana as well as Turkwel and Sondu Miriu hydros drawing water from Turkwel and Sondu rivers respectively.

The Energy CS Charles Keter on Tuesday warned of the dam spillover, asking residents to move to higher ground, as KenGen denied deliberately discharging water from the Seven Forks dams resulting in flooding in Tana River and Garissa counties.

Kenya Red Cross said about 700 flood victims in Tana River camps are suffering from acute diarrhoea, skin diseases and acute respiratory infections and require urgent attention.