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Lake Turkana the 22nd largest lake, 24th by volume. It is, however, the world’s largest permanent desert lake and the world’s largest alkaline lake. Those distinguishing characteristics raise Lake Turkana’s significance as a unique ecological resource.

Dr. Avery’s study does not appear to take evapotranspiration into account from the new lakes behind the dams on the Omo River, nor from the regions around these lakes admittedly impacted by higher water tables and by significant groundwater outflows due to secondary permeability. Insignificant evapotranspiration, if this were to be the case, would make it difficult to explain the increased salinity observed in soils around the Aswan High Dam in Egypt.

In looking at the history of the siting processes for the Gibe dams, evidence appears to be lacking to support any explanation other than a rough sort of back-of-the-envelope process for siting Gibe III. Given the aggressive follow-on plans for additional large dams on the Omo River, which appear inconsistent with the credit worthiness of the sponsoring authorities, now would be a good time for a ‘pause’ to examine less risky alternatives that could be more easily integrated into applicable tariff structures than current plans. This is important because international lenders rely on tariffs in order to recoup their loans.

Can or should tariffs support repayment of Gibe II loans? Probably not, unless basic tariff principles are violated by EEPCo and its franchise customers. This is because the costs of the technical failures at Gibe II are not “used and useful” to ratepayers.

Less risky alternatives could include smaller dams or barrages like the Aswan Dam (not the High Dam), with closed-loop storage alternatives to the big reservoirs currently planned. Water could be pumped uphill into storage areas during times of low demand and then run back down through ROTR turbines and stored at low elevations until times of low demand.

Planning can pay off, both in financial terms and in providing win-win alternatives to the current back-of-the-envelope recklessness.