More water should be available in the coming weeks for parts of SA after the supply from Lesotho Highlands Water Project was restored following maintenance which started two months ago.
This was announced by water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu yesterday as she briefed the nation on the state of the drought in SA.
Sisulu said supply from Lesotho had been restricted to allow for maintenance, which is done every 10 years. “I am glad to announce that the Lesotho [Highlands] Water Project (LHWP) which had closed off water for maintenance for over two periods [months] has now opened up the tunnel,” Sisulu said.
“The tunnel started running at the end of last month and we expect that by the end of this week it will be flowing to the Vaal River which supplies water to four provinces. That will come as a great relief for us.”
The LHWP is an ongoing partnership between the governments of Lesotho and SA which comprises a system of large dams and tunnels throughout Lesotho and delivers water to the Integrated Vaal River System. It is this system that supplies water to Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga and North West.
Sisulu said among the provinces facing critical water shortages were Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga. The two provinces have dams operating below 10% of their capacity.
The minister said of the 46 dams in Eastern Cape, only two were 100% full, with 10 below 10%. The department’s report showed that none of the 20 dams in Free State are 100% full. Seven dams were below 50%, while two operate below 10%. The report also showed that none of the 22 dams in Mpumalanga were 100% full.
Sisulu said in the affected areas, her department has already introduced interventions aimed at helping the provinces deal with drought.
“More long-term solutions were required to deal with the water scarcity in the country,” she said.