It was the year 2009 when water levels of Lake Nakuru were very low. Communities around Lake Nakuru expected the worst: A disappearing Lake.
Then the opposite happened.
During the period from 2010 to 2013 water levels increased to an “all-time high”. Nobody of the current generation living in the area has ever seen this before. The rising water let to the flooding and abandoning of park infrastructure of Kenya Wildlife Services and inundated sensitive habitats, such as parts of the acacia woodlands. The park's most important attraction, a large population of the lesser flamingos, has disappeared since then.
Considering worst case scenarios further rising water levels increase adverse effects both on both biodiversity and infrastructure. In terms of biodiversity higher lake levels would decrease the time of optimum habitat conditions for flora and fauna specifically adapted to low lake level conditions, such as the lesser flamingoes and the related food web. The areal extent of higher lake level could potentially submerge the sanitation facilities, such as the Old Town wastewater treatment plant and inundate the north western margin of the National Park past the park boundary and into settled areas.
Historical lake level measurements (see diagram below) show that lake level variation is a naturally occurring phenomenon within the observational period. The magnitude of the recent high water level, however, is outstanding.
The variations indicate that Lake Nakuru is subject to a very complex and sensitive hydrological and geo-hydrological system, which is hardly understood.
In order to actively manage the threats to the lake, this study aims to gain a deeper understanding of the lake's fluctuating water levels in context of biodiversity conservation and infrastructure development.
Potential answers to the “mystery” of the currently high water levels shall be given.