Update On Water Releases From The Cameroonian Lagdo Dam And Present Situation Of Flooding In Nigeria

By Engr Clement Nze

The Lagdo Dam is located on the Benue River In the Niger Basin. The Cameroonian authorities commenced release of water from Lagdo Dam by 10.10am on 14th of August 2023.

This was communicated to the Director General of Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) on 23rd August, 2023 by the Cameroonian Hydrologist in-charge of the Dam.

The release of water from the Dam commenced at the rate of 200 cubic metres per second (200m?/s) which is about 18 million cubic metres of water per day (18Mm/day).

According to the official, this exercise will continue for the next 7 days seeing that the reservoir level currently stands at 213.46m and the maximum permissible level of the reservoir is 214.02m.

The said official also added: “We will continue to observe the situation. If there is no major inflow, we will close the spillway in the coming days.

The situation is under control”. By 25th August 2023, the water releases from the reservoir has reduced to 50m/s. However, by 5.16pm on the 28th August, 2023, the Hydrologist in-charge of the Dam notified the Director General of NIHSA that they stopped spilling water by 11.00am that same yesterday.

2.0 *Flow situation on the River Niger and Benue system*

As at today, 30th August, 2023:

1). The water level at our monitoring station in Makurdi, Benue State was 8.99m as against 9.75m that was recorded on same date in 2022. This indicated a reduction in the observed flow of last week and normal flow in the flow of River Benue system.

ii). The flow level on the River Niger system is considerably stable as well. The level of River Niger at Niamey (Niger Republic), upstream Nigeria, is normal with a flow level of 4.35m.

Situation reports from the inland dams (Kainji and Jebba) on River Niger and Shiroro on River Kaduna Indicated a normal flow regime.

The present reservoir level at Kainji Dam is 134. 64m (maximum reservoir level is 141 83m). This shows that there Is room to impound waters into the reservoir from the upstream as the inflow increases on the River Niger system.

iii). The flow level at our monitoring station downstream of the Confluence of the two trans boundary rivers (Niger and Benue) in Lokoja, Kogi State, was 8.66m as against 8.36m that was recorded on same date in 2022.

Though still within the normal range, the increase in flow level is due to the internal runoff that were generated from the inland rivers due to their increased flow levels occasioned by their catchment rainfall patterns.

3.0 Notations:

Nigeria is downstream of the 9-member countries of the Niger River Basin, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, the situation calls for more watchfulness on the part of Nigeria.

The months of July, August, September and October of every year signify periods of heavy rainfall, flooding and flood disasters in most parts of the country.

The floods are often aggravated by the trans boundary inflows of rivers Niger and Benue from outside the country. However, it is important to note that:

i). Dam water releases are a significant part of reservoir operations to protect the integrity of the dam and dams failure and to, even, reduce/regulate flooding of the adjacent communities.

Therefore, water releases from the Lagdo dam are normal reservoir operations and the quantum of water that was released is negligible to cause any flooding in Nigeria.

ii). The existing MoU between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the Republic of Cameroon does not explicitly provide for communication of timing (or lag time) for seasonal releases of water from Lagdo dam.

So far, information that Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency has been receiving was based on professional inter-personal and organizational relationship as National Hydrological Services of both countries under the umbrella of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

iii). It is highly imperative to deploy high level of preparedness on the part of Federal and State governments (particularty, the Niger Delta reg on including: Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kebbi, Niger, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Cross-Rivers, Rivers). Citizens including all agencies and stakeholders that are charged with disaster response and reduction to step up action and put in place measures to mitigate and avert any eventual flood disaster.

Engr. Clement Nze is the Director General/CEO, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency

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