Considerable planning to screen options out and to find the most feasible options has already been done. Planning makes use of the findings of numerous previous studies and current work.
Planning for the project follows a five-step approach:
Identifying water requirements
Studies are already determining how much water people and developments in the catchments need both now and in the future. This includes the needs of domestic users, agriculture, mining and industry, and others. Irrigation is currently the single largest user, but water supply from the new developments are likely to be too expensive for use by irrigators.
Identifying available resources
The studies will determine how much water is available in these catchments now, and from what sources.
Comparing requirements with availability (water balance)
The studies will compare the available water with how much water is, and will be, needed in the future.ucate the society about water resource management, forestry and sanitation.
Identifying and assessing options
Options include water conservation and demand management, possible dam and pipeline developments, availability of groundwater, re-allocation of water from other uses, re-use, and transfer of water from other catchments. The costs and benefits of the different options and combinations of options are also being determined.
Recommending feasible options
Lastly, once the above information is available, a combination of the most feasible options for each of the Olifants and Mogalakwena/Sand catchments will be taken forward into the detailed planning and implementation process.
Options available for the Olifants Catchment
The catchment falls within Water Management Area (WMA) 4 of the 19 WMAs into which the country is divided.
The largest water users in this area are irrigation agriculture, the mines and domestic users.
The available volume of surface water in rivers and in the Flag Boshielo Dam, and the volume of groundwater, will investigated.
Although groundwater is available in some areas, its natural quality is not always good enough for domestic use. For example, high nitrate levels occur in boreholes north of Steelpoort. Such groundwater can be used by mines but not directly for domestic water supply.
- The wall of the Flag Boshielo Dam will be raised by 5 metres.
This will enable water entitlements, currently leased by the Lebalelo Water User Association in the Steelpoort area for mining ventures, to be returned to small farmers on the irrigation schemes downstream of the Flag Boshielo Dam.
- The following additional options and their costs and benefits are being investigated:
- A possible new dam at Rooipoort on the Olifants River
- A possible new dam at De Hoop on the Steelpoort River
- Groundwater supply.
The best option will be chosen after an assessment of the options.
Water is already being transferred out of the Olifants catchment to the city of Polokwane, which is located in the Sand catchment.
However, water is already being transferred from the Komati, Usutu and Vaal Rivers into the southern parts of the Olifants catchment. Investigations will be undertaken to investigate further water transfers from the Vaal River System to the Witbank and Middelburg areas. These transfers could possibly be extended into parts of the project area.
Another option to make more water available is to use water trading to re-allocate water from other uses.
Re-use of effluent from Lebowakgomo is another possibility. This would require the effluent to be treated and piped to areas where the water is needed. This option is technically feasible and, although expensive compared with the volume of water it can make available, the water would be suitable for mining that does not require high quality standards.
Water conservation and demand management is another option.
Initial calculations show that water can be used more efficiently in the catchment. Although the additional water that will become available in this way will be small as compared with what will be needed in the future, it could make an important contribution.
Options available for the Mogalakwena/Sand Catchments
The Mogalakwena and Sand Catchments fall within WMA 1.
The largest water users in this area are again irrigation agriculture, the mines and domestic users.
There are few surface water resources in this area, as there are no large rivers and only the Doorndraai Dam, whose water is already fully allocated to existing users.
However, groundwater is available in parts of these catchments.
A number of development options are available to these catchments.
Apart from groundwater, the possibility of dams on the Lephalala River and at Groenvlei have been investigated in the past. Although these investigations were not very promising at the time, they will be re-investigated now.
Water is already being transferred to Polokwane in the Sand catchment from the Olifants Catchment and also from the Letaba Catchment.
Should any of the dam options in the Olifants catchment be feasible, it may be possible to transfer further water from the Olifants to the Mogalakwena/Sand catchments.
Internal water transfers within these catchments are also options, for example, from the Doorndraai Dam (although this would mean having to find other water for existing users of water from this dam).
In addition, effluent from Polokwane could be re-used by mining near Makopane.
Should a dam at Lephalala be found to be feasible, a further option would be to transfer water from this dam to areas where water is needed. This, however, would require further extensive investigation.
There is an option to re-allocate water from other uses through water trading.
This would mean that existing water users would be able to “sell” their water entitlements to other users.
The re-use of effluent is also being investigated for this area, looking at how much effluent is available and from where. Re-using effluent means, however, that less water finds its way back to the rivers or groundwater. The impacts of this need to be carefully determined before this option can be selected. On the other hand, re-using effluent not only solves potential water quality problems but also puts the water to high-value use.
Water conservation and demand management is another option. The study team is currently calculating how much water could be saved in this way, and the contribution this would make to the water needs of other users.
Creating an enabling environment
A project of this nature also requires ongoing liaison with stakeholders, cooperative governance to involve the full range of government departments, international liaison with South Africa’s neighbouring States, and putting in place the institutions that will have to manage the project during its construction, commissioning and operation.
The best institutional arrangements to manage the project, or to manage components of it, need to be determined. Again, various models are available.
[Which model is being used?]
Honouring international agreements
The Olifants River is part of the international Limpopo River System shared by South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
South Africa is currently formally consulting with its neighbours about the proposed project.
Numerous other government authorities need to be consulted and involved, in order to accommodate these developments in their future planning and activities. This includes the local authorities in their integrated development plans (IDPs).
Together with DWAF, they will assist in ensuring that, in the longer term, all the projects and developments coming out of this initiative are sustainable, and that as many people as possible benefit from the work that is done and the investigations that are made.
A regional economic assessment will quantify the potential economic impacts of the project on a regional scale. The assessment will consider, for example, household income, development opportunities, employment creation and other economic spin-offs.
Financing and ownership
The options to fund, implement and operate the project are also being investigated.
[model available yet?]
Capacity for community water supply
Although this project will not be directly responsible for community water supply, it will make water for community water supply available to local water services providers, such as municipalities. For this purpose, off-takes will be provided from the bulk distribution system or water will be delivered into reservoirs at agreed locations.
Environmental and other authorisations
Before a project such as this can be implemented, a range of environmental and other authorisations need to be obtained, and the necessary studies done to determine the potential negative and positive impacts.
These studies will also recommend ways to enhance positive impacts, and to reduce or avoid negative impacts.
For these reasons, an Environmental Impact Assessment and other investigations will start in April 2004, with full stakeholder consultation, to satisfy the requirements of relevant legislation.
Consultation with stakeholders will continue throughout project planning, and in particular from April 2004 when the Environmental Impact Assessment for the water resource development options will start.
At the same time, consultation will take place around the various other authorisations that need to be obtained in terms of relevant legislation.