Update: Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II work moving forward

The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority is moving forward with work on Phase II of its Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which includes construction of the 1,200-MW Kobong pumped storage scheme.

The company has several current aspects of the project up for bid, including:

  • Professional services for the safety, health, environment and quality management audits
  • Professional services for the master plan of the feeder roads and bridges
  • Professional services for health impact assessment and public health action plan
  • Professional services for establishment and management of a project labor recruitment desk
  • Expressions of interest for dispute board
  • Construction of the Polihali north east access road.

The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a bi-national project between the governments of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa, intended to provide water to the Guateng region of South Africa and to generate hydroelectricity for Lesotho. It was established by a 1986 treaty and entails harnessing the waters of the Senqu/Orange River in the Lesotho Highlands through the construction of a series of dams.

At inception, the project was designed to include five phases implemented over a period of 30 years and expected to transfer about 70 cubic meters of water per second to Guateng Province.

Phase II comprises two main components, a water transfer component to augment the delivery of water to South Africa and a hydropower component to increase electricity generation capacity in Lesotho and help meet the country’s electricity requirements.

The water transfer components are the 165-m-high Polihali Dam and a 38-km-long water conveyance tunnel.

The hydropower component is the Kobong pumped storage scheme, using the existing Katse Reservoir as the lower reservoir and construction a new upper reservoir in the Kobong valley. This will involve construction of the 101-m-high Kobong Dam and a 6.3-km-long power tunnel.

South Africa’s Cabinet agreed in 2008 to invest US$712 million in Phase II.

Commencement of the Phase II work began in October 2013. It is expected to be substantially complete by the end of 2024.

Phase I consisted of the construction of the Katse and Mohale Dams and the 72-MW Muela hydroelectric power station. It was split into Phases 1A and 1B, with 1A being Katse Dam and the transfer tunnel to Muela and 1B being Mohale Dam and the diversion tunnel to Katse. Phase I was completed in 2003 and inaugurated in 2004.


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