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Study Area

Area Description

As depicted on the inserted map of the study area, the study will focus on the water resources of the Upper and Lower Orange River Water Management Areas (WMAs), while also considering all the tributary rivers and transfers affecting the water balance of the system. This core area forms part of the Orange-Senqu River Basin, which straddles four International Basin States with the Senqu River originating in the highlands of Lesotho, Botswana in the north eastern part of the Basin, the Fish River in Namibia and the largest area situated in South Africa.



Major water resource infrastructure in the study area are the Gariep and Vanderkloof dams with associated conveyance conduits supporting large irrigation farming in the provinces of the Free State, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape - through the Orange-Fish Tunnel.

The Caledon-Modder System supplies water to the Mangaung-Bloemfontein urban cluster (largest urban centre in the study area) and the 2 200 km long Orange-Senqu River is the lifeline for various industries, mines, towns and communities located along the way until the river discharges into the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay.

Since 1994, a significant driver of change in the water balance of the Orange River System was brought about by the storing of water in Katse Dam as the first component of the multi-phase Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). Currently Phase 1 of the LHWP (consisting of Katse, and Mohale dams, Mosoku Weir and associated conveyance tunnels) transfers 780 million cubic metres per annum via the Liebenbergsvlei River into the Vaal Dam to augment the continuously growing water needs of the Gauteng Province.

The above description illustrates the complex assortment of interdependent water resources and water uses which spans across various international and institutional boundaries that will be considered in the development of the Orange River Reconciliation Strategy.

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