News

KATSE DAM REMAINS EMPTY DESPITE RAIN

By Staff Writers

Maseru, Feb 4 (The Night’s Watch) – Despite heavy downpours across Lesotho, not enough rainfall has been received to fill Katse and Mohale dams.

According to the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA), Katse Dam level stood at 28.35 percent on Monday while Mohale Dam level stood at 13.04 percent.

The levels are a far cry from the 38.8 percent and the 18.1 percent Katse and Mohale respectively, recorded last year around the same time.

Katse dam is Africa’s second double-curvature arch dam and a critical source of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), a multibillion-dollar, multi-dam water project developed in partnership between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa, and signed into life in 1986.

Through the LHWP, Lesotho transfers water from its highlands to the industrial centre of South Africa, Gauteng via the Vaal River System.

The project is considered Africa’s largest water transfer scheme.

Lesotho received some M936 million in royalties from exporting some 779 million cubic meters of water to South Africa in 2018.

In 2017, some 779 million cubic meters of water were transferred to South Africa and Lesotho received about M903 million in royalties.

In 2016, a M837 million revenue was made from sale of 779 million cubic meters.

The water from the LHWP is used in six provinces of South Africa.

It cools the Eskom power stations in Mpumalanga, keeps Sasol and the Free State gold mines operational and supplies the vast industries and sprawling urban areas of Gauteng.

It also provides life to some of the southern towns of Limpopo and the platinum mines of North West, as well as the diamond mines and people of Kimberley and surrounding areas.

Under drought conditions, emergency water can, and has been transferred to the Caledon River and to the Eastern Cape and southern Free State through the BloemWater network.

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

Phase I, already completed in 2003 and inaugurated in 2004, was split into Phases 1A and 1B – construction of Katse dam and Mohale dam respectively.

The system is interconnected in such a way that water may be transferred in either direction for storage in Mohale dam or ultimate transfer to South Africa through the Katse reservoir.

Katse dam is the transfer reservoir for the whole LHWP.

A new dam, Polihali in Mokhotlong, is planned to supplement Katse, in the second of five phases to develop Lesotho into a full-blown water resource for the whole southern African region.

But this expansion has been delayed. Polihali was originally scheduled for completion in 2018 but has been repeatedly postponed. NW

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