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Water level critical

Torika Tokalau
Friday, April 18, 2014

THE water level at the Monasavu Dam is close to its critical level of 715 metres, says Fiji Electricity Authority CEO Hasmukh Patel.

Mr Patel said this was a serious concern as Fiji entered its dry season in the next two weeks.

"Our current water level of Monasavu Dam as of 10am today (yesterday) stands at 734m, which is about 19m only above the critical level," Mr Patel said.

He said the below average long-term rainfall for some eight months last year did not help the level.

"It means that for some eight months of 2013, we did not get the rain that we normally get and as a result the Monasavu Dam level at the end of last year, compared to what we typically expect in a good year, is short of about seven to eight metres.

"And then, the first three and half months of this year we have received once again below long-term average rainfall.

"At this time of the year, especially during the rainy season, we expect the dam to be nearing full but that hasn't happened."

He said because of the low level of the dam, FEA had been forced to conserve water and burn large quantities of fossil fuel for electricity generation during the months of March and April which has impacted their financial situation adversely.

"In two weeks we will be entering what we typically call the dry season in Fiji from May until the end of October.

"The Fiji Meteorological Service is forecasting below average rainfall for the months of April to June, and the situation is likely to get worse as we enter the dry season.

"With the dam level already being at a level which should have been much higher, and with the prediction of below average rainfall, we foresee problems."

He said they did not want a repeat of 2003 when FEA had to shut down the Monasavu Dam because of a drought situation.

"We humbly and very seriously appeal to our valuable customers in Viti Levu to use electricity very carefully.

"Please, do not abuse any electricity; only on essential needs should you be using electricity. Because not only will it cost FEA and the country a huge bill in fossil fuel but we don't want to run out of water at Monasavu which is essential for the operations of FEA."

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