_: There is a planned outage for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project during the months of October and November 2012. The outage is planned within the prescripts and requirements contained in the Operations and Maintenance Manual guiding the operations of the project as indicated below.
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) augments the water resources in the Vaal River System. This system provides water to Rand Water, Sasol, Eskom and a large number of smaller users.
The LHWP was commissioned in January 1998 and has since virtually operated on a continuous basis.
Water from the Katse Dam is transferred to the RSA via on 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.
The Operation and Maintenance Manual specifies that the tunnels on this project must 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.
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.
The total volume of water scheduled to be transferred to the Vaal System (780 million m3 for the 2012 calendar year) will not be compromised. Water will still be transferred at the required rate as transfers that took place over the last few months were increased to make up for the two month outage and provide additional buffer storage in the Vaal Dam. The assurance of water supply to the Gauteng area will therefore not be negatively impacted upon during this planned outage of the LHWP.
The Department of Water Affairs together with the LHWP is discussing contingency plans with the municipalities along the Liebenbergsvlei and Caledon Rivers (the Caledon River can also be augmented from the LHWP in emergencies) should the rivers dry up to such an extent that water supply problems are encountered.
Users along the Ash and Liebenbergsvlei Rivers are advised to user water sparingly during this period.