Seen here addressing the Lower Orange River Forum is it chairperson, Moses Mahunonyane. Picture: Supplied
Kimberley - The construction of a dam on the Orange River in the Northern Cape, which could rival the Vaal Dam in terms of storage capacity, is expected to commence in 2024. The dam will supply water to the Lower Orange System for a period of 21 years from the date of commissioning.

Spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Water Affairs, Amogelang Moholoeng, said that the feasibility studies for the dam were going very well.

“If all goes according to plan, the construction of the dam will commence in 2024.”

According to Moholoeng, the recommended site for the dam is on the Lower Orange River, approximately 6km upstream of the Noordoewer and Vioolsdrift border post.

“Various options are being considered in terms of the size of the dam, with the recommended sizes of 35m to 73m for the height of the dam wall. The possible maximum storage capacity could be 2 800 million cubic metres, which is similar to the Vaal Dam.

“This development will enable the Northern Cape to store and keep water instead of it running off to the sea and also to significantly improve water availability in the Lower Orange River (LOR).”

In a report compiled by AECOM, which undertook the feasibility study for the proposed dam project, it was pointed out that the current (2015) water resources of the Orange River System (ORS) were insufficient to meet the long-term water requirements for both human and ecological water requirements, especially with the implementation of further phases of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

The main objectives of the dam will be to improve the availability of water resources in the LOR.

The construction camp for the proposed dam will be located in the vicinity of Noordoewer. The proposed dam will lead to the inundation of irrigated areas of approximately eight square kilometres. In addition, it will also inundate the town of Goodhouse, as well as a number of farms along both banks of the Orange River, the majority of which consist of established irrigable land.

It will supply the projected growth in water requirements in the Lower Orange System up to the year 2045 - a period of 21 years from the date of commissioning.

Last week, the provincial Department of Water Affairs (DWS) met with various water users of the Orange River in Upington to discuss pertinent issues affecting water users along the river.

The two-day meeting was attended by various stakeholders including the Black Mountain Mine, Trans Hex Operations, Orange River Wine Cellars, Kakamas Water User Association, Carstens Boerdery, NoordOewer, Agri-Northern Cape and district and local municipalities.

Speaking at the Lower Orange River Forum (LORF), the chairperson of the forum, Moses Mahunonyane, said: “DWS is very pleased with the attendance this year as it indicates that more Orange River water users realise the importance of working as a collective.”

Mahunonyane said that given the current water challenges facing the country, it was significant to verify and validate whether or not water users complied with their licence conditions.

For the past three months, the department has embarked on a series of public participation and information sessions with stakeholder to validate and verify water use.

“We have partnered with Agri-SA and Agri-Northern Cape on the verification and validation campaign and the co-operation has significantly assisted the process in reaching a large number of water users in the Northern Cape,” Mahunonyane added.

He pointed out that the Orange River system had suffered pollution as a result of effluent being disposed improperly and affecting the river negatively.

“The forum, as a collective, will have to come up with an action plan, which may include the establishment of a water and sanitation community forum that will monitor and report transgressors.”

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