The planned Isimba Dam would offer the much-needed electricity that the Ugandan government wants, since it could produce 183 megawatts but its reservoir will flood the area around the Kalagala Falls, which means that the ecosystem will be affected. "The hydroelectric dam would alter the natural ebb and flow of the water, risking the delicate balance of the river ecosystem and throwing the lifecycles of plants and animals off-kilter." mentions Lori Pottinger, the Senior Africa Campaigner for environmental group International Rivers.
Also, the construction of the dam, which will submerge the rapids and much of the surrounding forests, will affect the local economy, due to the fact that this area is a tourist attraction and thousands of tourists come to raft or kayak there.
Ugandan Energy Ministry spokesman Bukenya Motovo admits "The government is aware of the negative effects of dam projects, but Uganda doesn't have enough energy to drive its economic development programs. Rafting and kayaking will continue at other sites in Uganda - but that there are only a few locations suitable for hydroelectric dams. And this is Uganda's best option for relatively low-cost energy."
Bukenya Motovo points out "Hydropower is clean energy, green energy. We try as much as possible to minimize the impacts or even manage those impacts."
Electrical Manager Kolumbi Charles wonders "We have foregone our falls, several of them, in the name of generating power. The question is: for how long should this continue?"
At the time of writing, activists try to reduce the impact of the dam construction by convincing the government to build a smaller version of the dam.