WARMA warns of overflowing dams amid torrential rains

A man ponders next move as water rises at Mto Wa Mawe river in Athi River, Machakos County.[Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

The Water Resources Authority (WARMA) has warned of potential flash floods in parts of the country due to expected heavy rainfall.

The authority’s CEO, Mohammed Shurie, said in a statement, the Seven-Forks hydro-electric dams, including Masinga, Kamburu, Gitaru, Kindaruma, and Kiambere, are at risk of overflowing.

 “Most of the dams in the country are full hence posing a risk of flooding due to spilling and potentially breaching. As of Monday, April 29, all the Seven-Forks dams were overflowing and spilling over into downstream areas,” said Shurie. 

He further noted that the inflows to the dams from Mt Kenya and Aberdare have remained high.

Shurie also urged dam owners to comply with regulations, conduct periodic inspections, and ensure that spillways are properly maintained and free of any obstruction.

At the same time, WARMA raised concerns over the state of rivers, stating they are above flood alarm levels.

The Tana River system, Athi River system, and Lake Victoria basin are experiencing high flows.

Urban areas with poor drainage and public or private water reservoirs across Kenya may also flood if the rains continue uninterrupted in the coming days.

Shurie urged the public to exercise caution and revealed that the potential floods may require the issuance of evacuation orders in the affected areas.

His statement comes even as heavy rains continue to wreak havoc on people’s lives.

At least 131,450 people have been affected as floods swept through almost half of the country.

Images and videos shared on social media show people stranded on rooftops or salvaging what they can from homes destroyed by the flash floods.

In Nakuru, at least 40 people died after a dam burst its banks following weeks of torrential rains that also forced thousands from their homes.

Out of the 42, 17 are minors, Naivasha police commander Stephen Kirui confirmed, saying search and rescue operations are going on.

Water burst through the walls of the Dark Tunnel Valley dam located on Kijabe Hills in the wee hours of Monday morning, sweeping away tens of homes, including those in the neighbouring Ruiru, Kamuchiri and Geogious areas, which border the reservoir.

“We have recovered 42 bodies and many people are missing. It is a disaster.” Kirui said on Monday.

Up to 102 people were rescued from under the mud- many more are feared trapped- and taken to hospitals in Mai Mahiu town on Monday morning by Kenya Red Cross volunteers and Nakuru County Disaster Management team.

Motorist using the Nairobi-Mai Mahiu road were not spared either, as their vehicles were washed away, and some were trapped in the mud.

Five vehicles were still trapped in the mud, as the search and rescue team continued with the operation to retrieve bodies.