Home » Engineers clarion call for immediate repairs on Samanalawewa reservoir leak

Engineers clarion call for immediate repairs on Samanalawewa reservoir leak


By: Staff Writer

Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka’s leading engineers have made a clarion call to Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to initiate corrective measures to halt leaks in a massive volume of 78 million cubic metres of water in Samanalawewa reservoir annually, a major hydro power source of the country.   

In a startling revelation they claimed that the leak is causing a loss of Rs.2. 7 billion to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).

The Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka (IESL) in a statement recently urged the Government to take prompt action and instruct the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to initiate corrective measures to halt the leaks in the Samanalawewa reservoir.

IESL emphasised the imperative need to guarantee the reservoir’s safety, as communities residing downstream in the Walawe River basin are now under persistent threats.

The IESL observed that the reservoir is situated in an area characterised by fragile rock formations, and despite the implementation of specialised engineering solutions both before and after 1992, water has continued to seep from the reservoir for the past three decades.

“Two thousand litres of water per second leaks from the reservoir’s right bank. There are no leaks from the dam itself,” it explained.

The IESL pointed out that although the CEB had sought and obtained Cabinet approval in 2021 to reduce the reservoir’s water level, conduct investigations, and undertake remedial actions during the 2022 dry season, these measures were not executed by the CEB.

However, the IESL also noted the CEB has already mapped the possible pathways of the leaks.

“Further lowering of the water level in the reservoir now, would enable physical examination, to support scientific investigations done over the years, and then to immediately attend to remedy the leaks,” the organisation said.

“Urgent action is now required to close all the known and visible leakage paths. The reservoir water levels are still very low and offer the best opportunity for the first time in 30 years, to close the scientifically proven and some now visible leakage paths.

Experts in engineering, geology, irrigation, and electrical power have concluded that the primary objective would be to make the reservoir safe in the longer term.

Any breach of the reservoir’s right bank owing to years of leakage would amount to a disaster, unprecedented in the history of Sri Lanka. Large communities living downstream of the reservoir, in the Walawe River basin are under constant threat,” it added.

The IESL said the CEB must be authorised to act now, before allowing the reservoir levels to rise in the upcoming rainy season.

 “The paramount responsibility of the Government and CEB is to ensure the safety of the reservoir and the people living in the vast downstream expanse of the dam, who live under constant threat,” it noted. 

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