The effect of the Mbita Causeway on water currents in the region of Rusinga Channel, Winam Gulf, Lake Victoria: a 3D modelling study with ELCOM
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The Mbita Causeway in Kenya was constructed in the early 1980’s to link Rusinga Island to the mainland to facilitate the transport of people, goods, and services to the island. One of the effects of the Causeway was to permanently block a secondary connection between Rusinga Channel and the offshore waters of Lake Victoria. This secondary channel may have served as a substantial pathway of exchange between Winam Gulf and Lake Victoria prior to the Causeway. There has been considerable scientific and political debate as to whether decreased flushing within the two bays on either side of the Causeway has occurred and led to poorer lake water quality since the construction of the barrier. In Apr.-May 2005 an intensive field investigation was undertaken to determine the exchange dynamics between the northeastern offshore waters of Lake Victoria and Winam Gulf through Rusinga Channel. One of the outcomes of this scientific study was the validation of ELCOM (Estuary, Lake and Coastal Ocean Model), a three-dimensional (3D) hydrodynamics model, over Rusinga Channel. In this applied modeling study, ELCOM simulations with and without the Mbita Causeway were run. The simulated exchange through the channel without the Causeway was quantified. Simulated differences in the flushing within the two bays with and without the Causeway were evaluated through numerical tracer studies to infer the possible effects on water quality.
- Conference Papers