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Alleviating Water Scarcity in the Central Rift Valley Lakes through an Inter-Basin Water Transfer, Ethiopia

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Document pages: 15 pages

Abstract: Demand for fresh water, as one of the major natural resources, is increasing rapidly with increasing development and environmental degradation. The continued abstraction of water from Lake Ziway and its main feeder rivers Meki and Katar for irrigation indicates that the water demand may soon exceed the supply. To illustrate disparities in spatial distribution of water resources, the Upper Awash sub-basin, which shares a water-divide with the CRVL sub-basin, has large flow volumes particularly in the rainy season and suffers with seasonal flooding. The rationale behind regaining the water in CRVL relies on this non-uniform spatial distribution of fresh water, calling for a balance between water surplus and deficit regions. For this reason, Inter Basin Water Transfer (IBWT) is suggested as a viable option to augment utilizable water resources of the Upper Awash sub-basin to reduce the significant pressure on the water supply of the rapidly developing urban and irrigation areas in the CRVL sub-basin. A water evaluation and planning (WEAP) model was used to quantify the amount of surplus water in the donor basin, when examining the hydrological dynamics of the basins. Furthermore, optimal flow diversion scenarios were generated by maintaining two baseline scenario constraints. The estimated surplus water in the rainy season is expected to contribute 18 million cubic meters (mcm), 88 mcm and 192 mcm in months June, July and August respectively under average conditions. The optimal amount of diverted water could potentially stabilize the environmental degradation of Lake Ziway and Lake Abijata by compensating for development-driven abstraction and surface water evaporation respectively.

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