South Africa's Department of Water and Sanitation on October 28 reported that the South African and Lesotho water Ministries had agreed to fast-track Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) to ensure security of supply to the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS).
This follows a meeting between Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu, Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister Dikeledi Magadzi and Lesotho Water Minister Kemiso Mosenene to discuss matters relating to challenges hindering the completion of the project.
The LHWP entails harnessing the waters of the Orange – Senqu river in the Lesotho highlands through the construction of a series of dams for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Phase 1 of the LHWP was completed in 2003 and Phase 2 is presently under way.
“South Africa is a water scarce country; therefore, the completion of Phase 2 of the project has to be fast-tracked in order to augment the IVRS,” said Mchunu.
He added that the project should be successfully completed by 2027 or earlier.
Mosenene emphasised that Phase 2 of the project required collaborated efforts and commitment from both countries' governments.
“Water is life and no human being can survive without it. It is for this reason that the team working on the project bears in mind the needs of those that must be served with clean water. We all have to ensure that work is being carried out and done so effectively,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission committed to delivering a quality project within the set timeframe and budget allocated.
The water transfer component of Phase 2 of the LHWP comprises a 165-m-high concrete-faced rockfill dam at Polihali, downstream of the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu (Orange) rivers and a 38-km-long concrete-lined gravity tunnel connecting the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir.
While delivering water to South Africa, the LHWP also provides hydropower for Lesotho.