THE TAILEND OF the SW monsoon has brought much needed moisture into many parts of drought affected Sri Lanka. The back-to-back failure of the SW monsoon over a period of two years has depleted the hydro reservoirs that supply nearly 60% of the electricity generated in the country. The drought had caused some hydroelectric reservoirs to fall to some of the lowest levels ever recorded, forcing state-owned electric utility Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to impose an eight-hour power cut. Nightly blackouts began in July, while the imposed power cut began in late September.

Water storage available percentage wise at the hydro reservoirs in mid September were: Kotmale (201MW) 4.5%; Victoria (210MW) 6%; Samanalawewa 4.8%; Randeni-gala(138MW) 16.8%; Castlereigh 26.3%; and Moussakelle 35.7%. The authorities fear that unless there is an improvement in these storages soon, it may lead to extended power cuts each day.

According to CEB engineers, it would not be possible to operate the hydro power generators below a certain water levels in the reservoirs as turbines could be damaged. CEB sources said that the total generation capacity had dropped to about 300MW, 25% of the total.