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More water for Vaal

JOHANNESBURG
— In an effort to deal with water shortage in the Free State, the Department of
Water Affairs will be releasing water from Lesotho into the Vaal River during
October and November.

Departmental
spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP)
would transfer 780 million megalitres (m3) of water into the Vaal River system.
Ratau
said the operation and maintenance manual said that the tunnels had to be
inspected at least every 10 years.

“The
first scheduled inspection of the total project has now been scheduled to take
place during October and November 2012,” he said.
“No
water transfers to the Vaal system will be possible over this period as the
tunnels will be drained for these inspections and maintenance work required,”
Ratau said.

“Water
will still be transferred at the required rate
as transfers that took place over the past few months were increased to make up
for the two months outage and provide additional buffer storage in the Vaal
Dam” after the inpections have been completed, Ratau said.

“The
assurance of water supply to the Gauteng area will therefore not be negatively
impacted upon during this planned outage of the Vaal system,” he said.
Ratau
said that water from the Katse Dam would be transferred to the country via an
extensive tunnel system and released in the upper reaches of the Ash River near
Clarens.

“The
water then flows down the Liebenbergsvlei River along the Wilge River and into
the Vaal Dam, the main storage dam for South Africa’s economic heartland,”
Ratau said.
He
also said that the water affairs department had had discussions with
municipalities around the Liebenbergsvlei and Caledon Rivers to come up with
measures to supply water when the rivers dried up if they encountered any
problems.

“Users
along the Ash and Liebenbergsvlei rivers are advised to use water sparingly
during this period,” Ratau said.
According
to Ratau, this would ensure that water was sufficiently stored so as to supply
water to the Free State and Gauteng areas.

Ratau
said the Vaal River system provides water to Rand Water, Sasol, Eskom and a
large number of private sector companies.
The LHWP was commissioned in 1998 and has
since virtually operated on a continuous basis. — TNA

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