Friday, 29 October 2021

Pretoria: The Ministries of Water in both South Africa and Lesotho have agreed to fast track phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) to ensure security of supply to the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS).

This follows a meeting between Minister Senzo Mchunu, Deputy Minister Dikeledi Magadzi and Minister Kemiso Mosenene from Lesotho to discuss matters relating to challenges hindering the completion of the project, while agreeing on solutions to fast track its completion.

The meeting took place in Pretoria on Thursday.

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 I of the LHWP was completed in 2003 and Phase 2 is presently underway.

“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.

The project, the Minister said, should be successfully done by 2027 or earlier.

In agreement, Mosenene emphasised that Phase 2 of the project requires collaborated efforts and commitment from both 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,” said Minister Mosenene.

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission committed to deliver a quality project within the set timeframe and budget allocated.

Magadzi emphasised the importance of adhering to the treaty and related protocols guiding the LHWP.

“We can only successfully complete this project if we continue to work hand in glove and with the same mandate in mind, which is the delivery of water to those in need,” Magadzi said.

The water transfer component of Phase 2 of the LHWP comprises approximately a 165-m high concrete faced rockfill dam at Polihali downstream of the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu (Orange) Rivers and an approximately 38-km long concrete-lined gravity tunnel connecting the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir.