Power cuts and drinking water shortage loom | Daily News

Power cuts and drinking water shortage loom

The water levels of reservoirs used for hydro electricity have gone down to critical levels, making it difficult for the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to meet the current demand. The continued usage of the two reservoirs may lead to drinking water shortages in the Western Province, CEB Engineer’s Union President Athula Wanniarachchi told the Daily News.

The CEB has been generating electricity from Castlereigh and Maussakele reservoirs, to meet the increase in demand, reducing water volumes to critical levels.

The water levels of all reservoirs except Victoria and Randenigala is below 30 percent level. The water level of Castlereigh is at 17.9 percent while at Maussakele it is at 29.9 percent and Kotmale 24.5 percent. The water from these reservoirs is released to Kelani River power generation in Lakshapana hyrdropower station and is used to supply water to Colombo and suburbs.

CEB spokesperson Sulakshana Jayawardana said the CEB will soon have to give priority to preserving water in the reservoirs for drinking purposes which would further reduce hydroelectricity generation.

“There are limitations on usage as water from Victoria and Randenigala has to be reserved for farming, so there is an over dependence on Maussakele and Castlereigh reservoirs for power generation,” he said.

The daily usage of electricity has gone up to 42 GWhr from 30 GWhr in January first week, while the usage was at 35GWhr during the same time period last year. Currently the hydroelectricity supply only meets 25 percent of the demand during peak hours. Last week thermal electricity supply rose to 80 percent of usage in the country.

If the prevailing dry weather conditions and the demand for electricity remains at 42 GWhr, the CEB will not be able to supply continuous power, especially after April New Year, Wanniarachchi warned.

If the Lakshapana and Samanalawewa plants stop generating power or reduce power generation in the coming weeks, the CEB will face problems in supplying electricity to the Southern areas of the country including Galle, Matara and Balangoda due to limitations in the distribution grid. The water level of Samanalawewa reservoir is at 21 percent which is below the critical level of 25 percent.

The CEB had to unexpectedly depend only on hydroelectricity when Norochocholai was shut down following two islandwide blackouts last month.

The management strategies put in place to preserve water resources in anticipation of the drought season was abandoned to supply power when Norochcholai was shut down, which also contributed to the current crisis.

Jayawardana said to address the situation, the CEB is moving to buy two Independent Power Producers (IPPs), Heladanavi and ACE Power plants. A negotiation committee has been appointed to proceed with the purchases, while the Government Valuation Department has been tasked to assess each plant for purchase.

A decision to buy external power to meet the demand will be taken today, he said.

Jayawardana said since rains are expected at the end of April and water from Mahawali scheme is to be released for farming in the third week of April, the CEB will be able to successfully manage the situation.

However the Engineer’s Union states that the move to buy external power will not be able to address the current crisis.

“The government should consider power cuts and educate the public on how to manage their usage during the shortage,” Wanniarachchi said.

“The country has not had such a severe dry season for over five years. Even the 2012 drought was not a serious one. This year it is severe and public should be educated to understand the situation, and deal with the crisis,” he said.

Power failure in Southern and Central Provinces

A Power failure which lasted for about 30 minutes was experienced at several locations, mainly in Southern and Central province.

The Ceylon Electricity Board which cited a technicalfault as the reason said that swift measures had been taken to rectify thesituation. 


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It is time to initiate rain water harvesting for domestic use. Particularly for washing, flushing and gardening. We need little clean water for drinking.


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