THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH AFRICA has announced that approximately US$124M will be spent over the next seven years to increase the storage at one dam and build another on the Olifants river.

The projects are meant to satisfy the increasing demand for water in Limpopo. The Department of Water Resources has proposed working in two stages to secure this increased storage.

During the first stage, Flag Boshielo dam on the river near Marble Hall in Mpumalanga will be raised by 5m at an estimated cost of US$22M. This will increase its storage capacity from 100Mm3 to 188Mm3, allowing 72Mm3 of water to be used each year, compared to 56Mm3 currently used. Construction for the first stage will begin by the end of this year and will be completed by October 2005.

In the second stage, a large dam will be built on the Olifants river, either at Rooipoort, near Mafefe and Mathabatha some 150km downstream of Flag Boshielo, or on the Steelpoort river, a tributary of the Olifants.

The best alternative will be chosen after further studies of the future growth in water requirements and the locations of the new demand centres. A decision is expected by next year and construction could start in 2006 to be completed by the end of 2010.

The dam will store between 50-70Mm3, depending on the final design and is estimated to cost between US$87.1M and US$112M.