The deep-rooted challenge of lake weeds


The rainy season bring with it challenges to hydropower plants. Lake Weed commonly referred to as Enboch, buoyant grass and lack of spare parts are resulting in power interruptions.
Last week, Ethiopian Electric Power had disclosed that Awash 1 and 2 hydro power plants had stopped operations because of ‘Enboch’ and high waters. Apart from Awash according to EEP, Tana Beles hydro power plant is also facing the same fate.
According to the Ethiopian electric power, the spread of water hyacinth which is commonly known as Enboch on Lake Tana is also presenting a challenge to Tana Beles – the second largest hydro-electric power plant in the country with an installed capacity of 460 MW.
As the office disclosed the problem needs an immediate solution and if not properly tackled the hydro-electric plant would stop its operation. As a result of this, Tana Beles had been temporarily closed for three days from August 16-18.
“Even if the power plant has Taff boom-which is an equipment that offers protection during operation from buoyant grass, the increasing average of the grass is making the situation difficult.
Beles hydroelectric power plant is located on Lake Tana which has been affected by ‘Enboch’ for about ten years. Beside the effect brought about the buoyant grass, Enboch, is also adding more risk to the power plant. According to Moges Mekonnen, PR of Ethiopian electric power, describes the situation as daunting. This is because when trials are made to control the spread of one side of the lake, the weed begins to sprout on the other end and their spread are propagated by wind and storm.
As Moges informed capital to control the spread and the effects on the plant there are activities such as leasing boats to prune the weed. However for sustainable solution he suggested that the activity should be strengthened in terms of the efforts made to control the spread.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further added fuel to the fire since human labor was required to reduce the infestation of Water Hyacinth on Lake Tana.
Starting from 2011 the lake has been affected by the infestation which is the most dangerous weed affecting lakes around the world.
This deep-rooted issue actually started in 2011, and infestation has continued its spread since. Hyacinth is the most dangerous weed affecting lakes around the world to date.
On September 2019 the government formed an agency tasked with the protection and development of water resources to control the spread of the weed. Three methods being used to control the spread of the weed are; using chemicals, using biological means, and lastly is removing it physically by using both machines and human resource. Despite these efforts, the infestation has persisted and even got worse.
The infestation still poses a serious threat to the lake, the surrounding community, and the Nile basin.
Enboch directly threatens both the lake and its inhabitants. It deprives aquatic plants and animals of sunlight and oxygen. It also restricts water flow and is an obstacle to all kinds of economic activities including fishing, navigation, power generation and irrigation.