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Posted 3/3/2016

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By Ann Marie R. Harvie
CENAE, New England District

A team from New England District is consulting on the repair work currently underway on the Mount Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project near Monrovia, Liberia.

The team traveled to Liberia in November 2015 and again from Jan. 24 to Feb. 2 to conduct a site visit of the project and the surrounding areas.

The invitation from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) came due to the outstanding efforts New England District put out to make one of their projects, the Nacala Dam Restoration in Nacala, Mozambique, such a success. MCC has entered into a 5-year economic development compact with the government of Liberia. The District is providing independent engineering advice and due diligence support to MCC.

When work is complete, the Liberian capital city, Monrovia, will receive their power from the project. In addition, Monrovia and nearby villages will have a reliable source of clean water.

Businesses in Monrovia are currently purchasing connections to generators from vendors. "Many people do not have much choice but to be in the dark after sunset," said Patrick Blumeris, Hydraulic Engineer on the project. :Since Monrovia is so close to the equator, this amounts to 10-12 hours per night."

According to Blumeris, there are approximately 950,000 people who stand to benefit from the cleaner water. "There are people who will receive water from the piped system we are planning to re-install, from the reservoir to the treatment plant and then pumped into Monrovia," he said. "For people around the lake, a separate set of water hand pumps is being installed. These should be able to find groundwater more easily than any other pumps, and should be cleaner than the widespread use of surface water which often gets muddy or goes dry in the dry season. There is also a possibility that there is sea salt in the water."

Blumeris said that the current water pipeline project would ensure that water comes from a less turbid source than the river itself, and it is hoped that 100 liters per capita per day will be provided to nearly one million people.

"Our project ends at the White Plains Water Treatment Plant, which is undergoing a renovation of its own under the Liberia Water and Sewer Commission," said Blumeris

The 20-meter high dam was built in 1966. During the civil war in 1990, the dam was not allowed to operate, resulting in a dam breach.

Because of the breach, 180 meters of material was eroded down to bedrock. Also, much of the electrical and mechanical equipment had either been stolen or destroyed.

Work to rehabilitate the dam and the power house will include but not limited to repairing the breached portion of the forebay dam and repairing the generator floors and columns of the power house to support the crane and turbine/generator equipment during erection and future maintenance.

As a result of their visits, the team came up with numerous recommendations in all areas of the $350+ million project, many of which were immediately implemented. It is anticipated that the project will be completed in August 2017.

Team members who are working this effort are Team Leader Siamac Vaghar, Geotechnical Engineer; Brian Head, Electrical Engineer; Patrick Blumeris, Hydraulic Engineer; Mike Penko, Biologist; and Matthew Tessier, Civil Engineer and Jeff Teller, Chief, Appraisal Branch, Real Estate Division.