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Phase II of Lesotho Highlands water expected to deliver 465 million cubic metres per annum by 2020
SOUTH Africa and Lesotho’s political relations are not at their best. And this might hinder the progress the much needed phase II of Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) which will deliver at least 780 million cubic metres per annum.
The crucial phase II of the project is expected to deliver water from 2020 and gradually increase to an additional 465 million cubic metres per annum. The water project with Lesotho is important as South Africa embarks on an ambitious R3, 2tn infrastructure development programme.
Also beyond that, it will be crucial for South Africa’s ongoing water security as some industries are already affected by water shortages. South Africa’s mining industry is already being constrained by water shortages and if acid mine water is not desalinated, the Upper Vaal could go into deficit by 2015 and mining in six provinces would be affected.
Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) aims to facilitate water security through the planning, financing and implementation of bulk raw water infrastructure, in the most cost effective manner that benefits water users, but one of its major projects is the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). It diverts water from the Senqu River System in Lesotho to Gauteng Province.
At the peak of construction, about 7000 people were employed. The construction ended in 2006 after R1, 2bn was spent on the Katse dam. Construction of phase II is due to start in 2014 and will cost some R9bn. The Phase II project entails the construction of the Polihali Dam; a transfer tunnel from Polihali Dam to the Muela hydropower complex; expansions to the existing Muela hydropower complex; as well as advancing the infrastructure, environmental and social development programs in Lesotho.