South Africa plans major water resource projects

South Africa’s water minister rebuts claims of a national water crisis, saying current supply is better than adequate and that the government has more than nine major water supply capital projects in process for the next decade.

Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry Lindiwe Hendricks told Parliament March 11 that water storage in all provinces is well above average, with storage in most provinces equal to or exceeding last year’s levels.

“The 2007-2008 summer rainfall season started off in October 2007 with well above normal water storages due to the good rainfalls over the largest part of the country,” she said.

While South Africa is a water-scarce country with a highly varied rainfall distribution pattern subject to droughts, Hendricks said the government has ensured there are a number of dams, water allocation processes, and an extensive network of infrastructure to transfer water across the country.

Hendricks said nine dam and water resources capital projects were completed between 2004 and 2006 at a cost of 1.3 billion rand (US$164 million). They include Nandoni Dam in Limpopo in 2006 and the Mooi-Mgemi Transfer Scheme, whose first phase was completed in 2004.

Six major projects to be completed by 2012

Another six major water infrastructure projects, costing 8.8 billion rand (US$1.1 billion), are to be completed between 2008 and 2012.

Projects under way include De Hoop Dam in Limpopo, which is expected to supply water by pipeline to the proposed 1,500-MW Project Lima pumped-storage project. (HNN 3/3/08) Also on the list is Berg River Dam, which was completed in 2007 as the largest component of the 1.5 billion rand (US$190 million) Berg River Water Project. (HNN 8/23/07)

Another project being completed is the Vaal River East-Subsystem Augmentation Scheme, designed to supply sufficient water to power stations of electric utility Eskom and to chemical and fuels producer Sasol Ltd.

Nine major projects in the planning stage

In addition, the ministry said, nine major water capital projects are at the planning stage and expected to be built over the next five to ten years at an estimated cost of 12 billion rand (US$1.5 billion).

Hendricks added that a government planning process determined that a new dam would be required to serve Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province, by 2019.

“The feasibility studies to determine the location of this new dam have already been completed and a decision on the location will be made in the coming months,” she said.

She said maintenance and rehabilitation of existing facilities also is under way in a five-year, 1.3 billion rand (US$164 million) program. She said work has commenced at 42 of the country’s dams.

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