After the Storm Daniel destruction and deaths in Derna that have led to at least 4,000 deaths and 40,000 displaced and an estimated 10,000 still missing (most of whom are unofficially presumed dead), dams in Benghazi and Sirte received attention. The huge deaths and destruction in Derna have been, initially at least, attributed to the failure of Derna’s two dams. The dams had needed maintenance but were overlooked.
Benghazi Municipality announced Wednesday that its Acting Chairman, Sagr Bujwari, issued Resolution No. 91 of 2023 regarding the formation of a municipal committee responsible for identifying all encroachments on the Wadi Al-Gattara river valley as soon as possible.
The Al-Gattara Dam
The Al-Gattara dam is located 33 km east of Benghazi. The Benghazi area was damaged by floods in 1938 and 1954 before two dams were constructed. Construction of the dams began in 1968 and was completed in 1971. However, a flood in 1979 severely damaged the main dam and destroyed the secondary dam downstream. The main clay-filled dam was rehabilitated, and the secondary dam was replaced with a rock-fill dam between 2000 and 2004. The main dam was heightened 7 m and its total discharge capacity was increased to 240 m3/s. Both dams were designed by French company Coyne et Bellier.
According to the Benghazi municipality’s Media Office, the committee is headed by the Director of the Benghazi State Property Authority Office, and the membership of the Director of the Eastern Region Branch of the Ministry of Water Resources, the Coordinator of the Agriculture and Livestock Sector, and the head of the Operations and emergency room.
Obstacles removed from river’s path
The Media Office noted that the municipality has taken several measures aimed at removing obstacles in the path of Wadi Al Gattara. This included cleaning it and expanding it in coordination with the Eastern Region Branch of the Ministry of Water Resources and the competent security authorities in order to ensure public safety and public and private property from any dangers that may occur.
Benghazi’s Wadi Jaza Dam continues to be cleaned and emptied
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Reconstruction and Stability Committee reported that its engineers confirmed that the companies in charge of emptying another dam, the Wadi Jaza Dam, are continuing their work and are still cleaning the valley’s river path.
Water level decreased
The engineers confirmed that work is continuing for the seventh day in a row according to the schedule prepared by the team on the flow of water from the dam to the valley stream, confirming that the water level from the dam has decreased by 7.35 meters, with a quantity of water estimated at 5.320 million cubic metres.
Eight kms cleaned, dam was subject to vandalism and theft
The engineers indicated that the work of cleaning the valley stream is continuing, having cleaned 8 kilometres out of a total of 12 kilometres, in addition to the repair work of the main gate/valve of the dam, which was subjected to acts of theft and vandalism, during which the hydraulic equipment, the oil tank, and the electricity system were stolen.
Sirte activates dam and drainage channel projects
In the same vein, a meeting was held Wednesday at the Sirte Municipal Office, which included the Mayor of Sirte Municipality, Mukhtar Al-Ma’dani, the Director of the Egyptian Arab Contractors Company’s Libya Branch, and the Director of the Planning Department at the Government’s Ministry of Water Resources.
Four dams need attention
The meeting was devoted to taking urgent coordination measures with the government’s Ministry of Water Resources regarding activating Sirte’s dam and drainage channel projects according to previous proposals. Sirte has four dams that need work, it reported. All sites were visited on the ground and immediate measures were taken to activate these projects with the competent authorities.
Obstacles to implementation of dams identified
During the meeting, the obstacles to the implementation of dams were also acknowledged by identifying the farms, trees, and citizens’ property that stand in the way of implementing projects to protect the dams and the water drainage channel. These were referred to the competent authorities for compensation.
Dams need maintenance to avoid threat to life
The Mayor of Sirte Municipality appealed to the Tripoli Ministry of Water Resources to maintain the dams in Sirte Municipality because they are dilapidated and need maintenance and may pose a danger to the city. He called for the rapid maintenance and support of the dams to avoid any emergency that threatens the collapse of the dams to preserve lives.