Alarm raised as Water levels in Rift Valley lakes rise, submerging tourism facilities

By Caroline Chebet | Friday, Sep 7th 2018 at 00:00
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Some of the buildings that have been submerged by the rising water at Lake Nakuru National park on September 6,2018. [Photo:Caroline Chebet/Standard]

The five lakes in the Rift Valley have swollen to the highest records in recent years, according to a conservationist.

The water levels in lakes Baringo, Bogoria, Nakuru, Naivasha and Elementatita have in the past two months increased, recording levels superseding the 2012-2013 records, when the lakes experienced a major increase.

Lake Nakuru National Park Senior Warden Catherine Wambani said over the past two months, water in Lake Nakuru has been rising at a high rate, submerging some old buildings that had been abandoned in 2013, when the lake swelled.

“The water levels had significantly dropped after the 2013 increase. Water has since increased, submerging some of the buildings,” Ms Wambani said.

She added that although no research had been conducted to establish the exact levels, the increase might be attributed to geographical activities linked to the Rift Valley as well as the ongoing rains and catchment distraction, especially in the Mau Forest.

“Currently, there is no research going on despite the phenomenon being witnessed in all the Rift Valley lakes. Resurgence of the same challenges experienced almost six years ago seems to be back, this time at higher rates,” Wambani said.

She said the phenomenon has been witnessed in lakes Naivasha and Elementaita, where high levels of water had been recorded.

Lake Bogoria Senior Warden James Kimaru said the rising water levels might soon submerge a new gate that was built after the previous one was covered in 2014.

“We constructed a gate and administration facilities at a cost of 12 million between 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately, if the water levels continue rising at this rate, we might end up losing the gate again,” Mr Kimaru said.

The water levels in lakes Baringo and Bogoria, he said, were at their highest.

“The rate at which the water is rising in Baringo and Bogoria is really fast. Coupled with the ongoing rains and warnings of rains above normal to be experienced in the coming months, the levels might drastically increase, submerging notable facilities,” he said.

Loboi dispensary, located next to Lake Bogoria National Reserve, is submerged.

However, Kimaru said the increase in water levels would not affect flamingo populations in the lake.

“The lake is deeper and changes may be very minimal in terms of alkalinity. The flamingoes will still thrive,” he said, adding that emergency plans have been and alerts would be sent to daily.

Alkalinity levels

In Lake Nakuru, the increase in the water volume has led to decrease in alkalinity, thus affecting the flamingoes.

The surging water levels years ago saw one of the greatest migration of flamingoes from Lake Nakuru to Bogoria. Few flamingoes can be spotted now.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui asked researchers to step in and give reports to guide future planning.

"The roads to the lakes and parks are almost inaccessible," said Mr Kinyanjui.

 

 

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