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In November 2003, the South African Institute of Civil Engineering named the Lesotho Highlands Water Project project of the century for it s immense impact on the betterment of the lives of South Africans and Basotho, the benefits it brought to the economies of both countries, the manner in which the environmental impacts were addressed and the effective and efficient overall management of the project . Gauteng province is the industrial heartland of South Africa and is one of the few large urbanised areas in the world that is not located adjacent to a major source of water. The demand for water in Gauteng outstripped the local resource of the Vaal River many years ago with the result that the area relies heavily on large water schemes which transfer water from adjacent river basins into the Vaal River basin. The purpose of the project is to provide Lesotho with a source of income in exchange for the provision of water to the central Gauteng province where the majority of industrial and mining activity occurs in South Africa, as well as to generate hydroelectric power for Lesotho (currently almost 100% of Lesotho's requirements) Currently Gauteng has a population of approximately 3.8 million with an approximate annual demand of 493 000 mega litres of water, growing at 3.93% annually. In ten years time, the Municipality is expected to provide 724 mega litres per annum against the current Rand Water allocation of approximately 500 000 mega litres. The Government intends to meet this demand using the water from the Vaal basin to which the LHWP is a major supplier of water. This project would ensure that the Gauteng Province will not experience a water shortage throughout the future.
Lesotho remains one of the least-developed countries in the world, with no major natural resources except for water, of which it consumes less than 6% domestically.
y y y
Government s strategy was therefore to maximise the benefit to both Lesotho and South Africa from the sale of the excess water.
Legislation y Managing a country s water resource in order to ensure that the supply meets the demand requires that different international treaties, protocols, policies and legislations be adhered to.
a shared watercourse system shall be used and developed by member States with a view to attaining optimum utilisation thereof and obtaining benefits there from consistent with adequate protection of the watercourse system . In this case.y y y Currently. It states Member States shall utilise a shared watercourse system in an equitable manner. In particular. built during Phase 1A of the LHWP opened in September 1998. South Africa abides to many international protocols such as the Helsinki Rules that states that each basin state has a right to equitable share of the basin s water. y All power to Lesotho was supplied by Eskom in South Africa in 1995. Fully operational since January 1999. On another level. . the SADC protocol (Southern African Development Community) on Shared Water Course Systems between many Southern African Countries. the Muela Hydro-electric Power Station. They will therefore make sure that The Lesotho Highland s Water Project takes place ad smoothly as possible. the plant has a capacity of 80MW but this is due to increase to 110MW if Lesotho and South African agree to carry on with Phase 2 of the LHWP. (1MW can power 1000 houses in SA) Tourism y The project provides opportunities for private investors to build hotels. Benefits: Electricity y The hydro-electric component of the LHWP is the Muela Hydro-electric Plant in the Butha-Buthe district. The Katse and Mohle dams of the project pose a good opportunity for initiating unique environmentally-friendly water-based tourism. the most important of which are the Water Services Act 108 of 1997 (provides for the rights of access to basic water supply and basic sanitation and the institutional structures required to provide water) These laws were written and approved in order to ensure that people s needs are met in an equitable way. However. including South Africa and Lesotho plays an important role. South Africa has its own legislation and policy. all the while causing as little damage as possible to other parties involved. y The resulting electricity production ended Lesotho s previous dependence on imported electricity from South Africa and resulted in Lesotho s self-sufficiency in electric power. lodges and resorts at the Katse and Mohle towns.
For Phase 2.y y y With Lesotho s high altitude. Economy (labour and revenue) y The LHWP construction programme provided a major boost to overall economic growth. a fair number were moved to skilled and semi-skilled categories through their adeptness and job training acquired in Phase 1A. Construction required employment of many labourers from the Lesotho area. . Individuals from affected communities were trained in labour-intensive methods which promoted skills development in local communities. This will permit an inflow of entrepreneurial and financial capital into the village that will yield remarkable rewards. hot springs and secluded situation. representing a considerable resource of revenue for the funding of development projects in Lesotho. In addition to direct inflows it has also benefited from the overall increase in regional economic activity created by the project. At the peak of construction. their concept is to turn the Katse dam into a tourist town for up-market visitors. it provides a potential health and wellness investment as health spas and wellness resorts could be developed there. This concept would involve a limited number of large establishments operated by tourism organisers and a range of small tourism establishments operated by individuals or small enterprises. y y y y Infrastructure y These projects include major developments in Lesotho s infrastructure. schools. including roads. Fixed component is based on the split in cost-saving between South Africa and Lesotho with 56% being allocated to Lesotho in the form of royalties. These payments are estimated to average approximately over 314 million rands per year. housing. The variable component is based on the calculated cost of pumping an equal volume of water per month to Gauteng. Revenue generated by the project for Lesotho falls under two categories: fixed and variable. health facilities and improved sanitation. Phase 1B created more than 8000 jobs for local and regional workers. clean mountain air. The LHWP also consists of many animal sanctuaries and conservation parks set up as a joint venture between the two countries eco tourism will play a huge part in this project and the Gauteng municipality benefits from this because many of them are situated on the Vaal River. Even though the majority of labourers were under the unskilled category. electricity.
. 75km of power lines and over 100 construction houses. y y y y What about allegations of corruption? y y The initiation of this project led to corruption and bribery which ultimately increased the costs. and desalination involves very high costs.y y y On a larger scale. water importations require more political and legislative agreements. Water consumption was brought down significantly. lesotho s capital. In particular. Debate: Have other alternatives been investigated? y The city also acknowledges the fact that the LHWP cannot be the only strategy implemented to solve our water shortage therefore Johannesburg Water conducted a study across the city. as well as desalinating seawater and icebergs. Close to 220 million litres of water was saved in Phiri alone at the time. Mr Sole was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison. it is not the only option that South Africa has underway. resulting in a 79% reduction in unaccounted for water. other infrastructure completed during Phase 1B included three mountain passes. to establish the patterns of water bursts and from these findings estimated the capital needed to wipe out backlogs in the infrastructure rehabilitation and upgrading projects. the road networking system supplied as a result of the project provides easier journeys to maseru. Future options to increase water supply are importing water from other southern African rivers such as the Okavango and Zambezi. the objective being to empower the communities with skills to take care of future maintenance. Johannesburg Water will be channeling and investing billions in the coming financial years towards infrastructure upgrade and rehabilitation of water networks across the city in a project named operation Gcin amanzi saving the country millions of rands since we will have to rely less on the LHWP. Improved water provision and sanitation facilities were a component of the environmental action plan. However. These aspects created a negative outlook for PHASE 2 of the project but corruption issues were resolved and Lesotho's government has taken a stronger stance on corruption. Even though The LHWP is an important part of the solution to South Africa s water crisis. Soweto included. 72km of tarred roads. Local masons were trained in construction and related skills.
etc. grain and pulses provision. What about the environmental and social issues? In response to loss of arable and grazing land. It also undertook a biological resource monitoring to identify any longterm impacts of the LHWP on terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna. . y Losses of physical assets Losses of agricultural resources Loss of community resources These were compensated for by land for land. 3. Binding requirements in order to determine which companies are awarded contracts would be an advantage to reduce negative corruption. 2. Prior to the implementation of the LHWP. which included rescuing 149 plant species from inundation. ESSG is undertaking extensive programmes of work for Habitat and species conservation and resource assessment. y y y The environmental and social services group completed a number of resource conservation programmes under Phase 1A. environmental niches and other property. Under Phase 1B. resulting in minimising costs and no over spending. establishing the Katse Botanical Gardens and representing a status report on the Maluti Minnow fish and its population. Instream flow requirements is a term used to water that is purposefully left in a river eco-system or released from an impoundment to maintain that eco-system.y For PHASE 2 to proceed the Lesotho government will effectively implement new laws to police bad conduct such as the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. a comprehensive compensation policy was instituted. As part of this. cash annuities. Over 1 billion funding representing more than 10% of total Phase 1B is exclusively devoted to environmental components. the findings of which were incorporated into its design and extensive efforts have been made throughout its implementation and operation to keep with the latest scientific findings and measures. This covers: 1. a recent study was completed to establish and monitor the instream flow requirements of river courses downstream of dams in the LHWP. specialized research was undertaken.
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