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Lake Victoria water levels rising again

A water guard wall under construction at Protea hotel, Entebbe

Since hitting a record-low water level eleven years ago, Lake Victoria has been replenishing at an almost unprecedented rate.

Lake Victoria Ecological and Maritime Company says water levels have increased by 5.7 metres above the previous level measured two years ago. The exact level of the increase is yet to be determined but some estimate there has been a six feet rise above the low level registered in 2004.

An official at Eskom says that the water at Rippon Falls in Jinja has been at an average of 12.5 meters. Eskom recently opened the gates at the Nalubaale power station (formerly Owen Falls dam) in effort to balance the water to avoid flooding.

The gates had not been opened for years from the time when the second dam was constructed. Experts say the resurgence has provided relief to the power generation and fishing sector.

The increase in the levels is partly attributed to rain-induced runoff and higher amounts of precipitation, and low evaporation. Some say it may be due to climate change. Engineer Richard Cong, the commissioner in charge of water for production at the ministry of Water and Environment confirmed the resurgence of Lake Victoria.

He could not tell by how much the water level has increased but noted the increase is quite significant. He attributed the increase on the elnino rains that have been experienced the years after the fall of the water levels
A recent study revealed that water levels in Lake Victoria will rise for the next 10-15 years. The increase according to North Carolina State University's Department of Marine, Earth and Atmosphere Sciences is due to changes in weather patterns as a result of global warming.

Dr John Rao Nyaoro, the outgoing executive director of Nile Basin Initiative says the increase is as a result of climate change.

“The goodness with around Lake Victoria region is that with climate change it has been found that there will be increased rainfall intensity within the region. So today Lake Victoria is at its highest level and that will continue. But climate change is something that is new, we need to keep on monitoring but even if it is high, it has got its own effects in one way or another. So the goodness is monitoring, assessment and sustainable use of that water resource”, he said.

The increase of Lake Victoria according to Dr Rao,  will also have important implications for economic development for countries sharing this water body. However, the rising waters is negatively impacting on shoreline properties like hotels.

Hotels and other recreational facilities on Lake Victoria shoreline are now fighting to avoid water running into their properties. Palm trees at Kitubulu beach in Entebbe that used to stand out of the waters are now in the water. The grass and walkways along the beach are now covered by water.

Most of the beach operators were hesitant to comment when contacted but it was evident that they were being impacted negatively. At Protea hotel, another block wall is being constructed to prevent the water from further extending towards its swimming pool and back entrances.

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