The dam, which was inaugurated on Wednesday, will be able to store 1.6 million cubic metres when full. (State House)
Seychelles’ La Gogue Dam, the largest water storage of the island nation, is back in operation after undergoing five years of work to enhance its capacity by 60 percent.
The dam, which was inaugurated on Wednesday, will be able to store 1.6 million cubic metres when full and this will partly address water scarcity which is more evident during the dry season from May to September when the southeast trade winds kick in.
The inauguration plaque was unveiled by Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan.
|The raised dam was inaugurated by President Ramkalawan. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY|
In his address, the Designated Minister, Jean-Francois Ferrari, said, “The maintenance of our people’s wellbeing is closely tied to water availability. Many countries around the world face dramatic water scarcity as a fundamental challenge to their economic and social development. Seychelles is no different.”
He said that “the regular and safe supply of water is one of the regular challenges facing our government today. Demand is rising but availability is stagnating. In our quest to dress our fair share of water problems, progress to build significant storage capacities in the like of La Gogue Dam has been slow mainly due to our limited financial resources to meet those very high investment costs.”
The project of raising the dam by 6 metres amounted to almost SCR400 million ($30 million) and was funded through a $20 million loan from the African Development Bank with contributions from the government and the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC).
According to the chief executive of the Public Utilities Corporation, Joel Valmont, currently, the dam is at 82 percent capacity.
Valmont told reporters on Wednesday, that although the dam is operational, “at this point in time, our aim is to impound the dam to continuously increase the water in it for us to be able to subject it to a test that it needs to go through.”
|Valmont said that currently, the dam is at 82 percent capacity. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Valmont added that “if we get rainwater, it will fill the dam and what we decided at this time in our dry period, is gradually using the water for treatment at Hermitage to serve to a certain extent, the northern Mahe region and the central region.”
He explained that the dam is connected to the Hermitage station and the zone covered by this station does not arrive to the south of Mahe.
“South Mahe from Cascade upwards to Port Glaud is still vulnerable. These areas are still depending on water from the rivers mainly and the fallback is from the desalination plants,” he added.
Minister Ferrari said that “If we are to increase our resilience to the ever-increasing challenges of droughts, we have no choice but to give particular attention to the investments required in storage infrastructures such as this one and the likes of such dam projects in the southern part of Mahe and on Praslin.”
La Gogue Dam was first inaugurated in 1979 and Valmont said, “It has loyally served our growing population until 2018, the year which we took it out of operation to enhance its capacity by 60 percent.”
The CEO said the project faced several challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic which caused “supply chain disruptions, cost escalations, held up of contractor’s workers and supervision personnel internationally, and quarantine requirements upon entry in the country.”
“Today, the La Gogue Dam stands taller, resilient and proud; making a remarkable impression, on all who behold, this engineering accomplishment. […]. This achievement has allowed us to take firmer strides towards achieving water security on the main island,” said Valmont in his address at the inauguration ceremony.