Assessing Hydrological Impacts of the Gilgel Gibe III Dam on Lake Turkana Water Levels
Spruill, Jessica S
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Lake Turkana is a saline, endorheic lake in northern Kenya and is the fourth largest lake in Africa. The lake receives 90% of its inflow from Ethiopia’s Omo River. Local pastoralists who live near the lake are increasingly reliant on Lake Turkana fisheries for subsistence as frequent droughts in the region limit the amount of productive land for livestock. Fisheries within the lake are dependent on annual flood pulses from the Omo River and are generally more productive with greater lake volume. In the past several years, there have been hydrological impacts in the Omo River basin, namely the building of a series of hydroelectric dams. This study will use satellite derived data to assess the hydrological impacts of the largest of these developments, the Gilgel Gibe III Dam. Observed changes in lake volume will be derived from lake height altimetry data. These observed changes will then be compared to predicted changes in lake volume derived from a naturalized, basin-scale water balance. Findings suggest that although the Gilgel Gibe III Dam is likely having an effect on the timing of Lake Turkana’s seasonal floods, the dam may not be fully responsible for the overall volume decrease seen in the lake since dam construction was completed in 2015.