CARACAS – The water level “remains very critical” at the El Guri reservoir, Venezuela’s main source of hydroelectric power, due to the severe drought caused by El Niño that has already forced the government to ration electricity and drinking water, Electric Energy Minister Luis Motta said.
“Today, we’re following the instructions of President Nicolas Maduro. We made an aerial tour of the dam and the situation remains very critical,” he wrote on Twitter.
The minister posted a series of photos of the dam, located in southeastern Venezuela, and compared them with others taken a month ago in which the drastic fall in the water level can be seen quite clearly.
Motta did not report the current water level at El Guri, but in late April it was reported to be 242.07 meters above sea level, just two meters (yards) above the minimum level required for the dam’s turbines to function.
In late April and early May heavy rains in the region raised the water level at the dam responsible for 70 percent of Venezuela’s electric power, leading the minister to emphasize last Thursday that forecasts are “good, despite the fact that it hasn’t rained for three days.”
The latest measure to deal with the power crisis, a move implemented on May 1, was to advance clocks by 30 minutes, reducing the difference between Venezuelan time and Universal Time to four hours.
The aim of the time change is to try and reduce the consumption of electricity and water to deal with the crisis, although the government had previously ordered rationing, excluding Caracas; reduced the work week by two days in the public sector and told schools to offer classes only Monday through Thursday.
In addition, shopping centers were ordered to operate on restricted hours and to generate some of their own electricity, among other measures.
Forty percent of Venezuela’s electricity consumption is residential while 24 percent is industrial and business consumption, 21 percent for so-called basic companies, mainly aluminum production, and 15 percent for other needs.