South Africa: Lesotho Highlands Water Project Tunnel Reopens

The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) tunnel has been re-opened with water already reaching the Saulspoort Dam in Bethlehem in the Free State.

The water project was closed for two months to allow for inspection and maintenance.

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu said the replenishing of the tunnel started on 20 November 2019 and will allow for water to flow into the Vaal Dam, which is currently flowing at 40.2%.

"It is expected that the flow of water into the Vaal Dam will take between 10 to 15 days," Sisulu said.

She said that water started flowing into the Katse tunnel in Lesotho before 01 December 2019 following the completion of all the repairs and installation of equipment.

The flow of water paves the way for the transfer of water from Lesotho.

"The tunnel was shut down from 01 October until 30 November 2019. During this period no water transfers to the Vaal River System were possible as the tunnel was drained," the Minister said.

The LHWP augments the water resources in the Vaal River System that provides water to Rand Water, Sasol, Eskom and a large number of smaller users.

Due to the fact that it will take some time for the Vaal Dam to be filled, the Department of Water and Sanitation in Gauteng has appealed to both residents and businesses to continue to exercise restraint in the way they use water.

This is further necessitated by the reality that the country is experiencing unusually high weather temperature and low rainfalls that impact negatively on dam levels across the country.

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