JOHANNESBURG - The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) in conjunction with the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) have successfully shut down the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) water transfer and delivery tunnel and associated systems for maintenance work, South Africa's department of water and sanitation said on Thursday.

The LHWP is an ongoing partnership between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa which comprises a system of several large dams and tunnels throughout Lesotho and delivers water to the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS) in South Africa.

The water department said the October 1 to November 30 shutdown would allow the LHDA and the TCTA to effectively perform inspection and maintenance work that would ensure that the conveyance system continued to operate optimally. Consequently, there would be no transfer of water into the integrated Vaal River System during the period.

It said the system -- which consists of fourteen dams with catchments in the provinces of Mpumalanga, Free State, Northern Cape and North West -- was at 74.8% of capacity.

"The DWS is confident that with all water users being responsible citizens in terms of water consumption and use, the IVRS will be able to provide sufficient water for all till the rainy season or end of the closure of the LHWP tunnel and system," the water and sanitation department said.

It added that it would closely monitor the use and flow of water in the affected rivers during the shutdown period.

African News Agency (ANA)