One big drought in the Vaal River catchment area over the next eight years could jeopardise the region’s agricultural and industrial output, senior Eskom and Sasol managers have warned.
Speaking at the end of the World Water Forum in Marseille, France, they said the period from now until 2020, when Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) starts delivering water to the Vaal, was one of “major risk”.
While a drought would not necessarily pose a threat to the two corporations’ ability to generate power and manufacture fuel – both Eskom and Sasol are deemed “strategic water users” and unlikely to have their supply curtailed – the same would not apply to others.
Particularly vulnerable would be large industrial water users, agriculture and municipalities located in and around the country’s economic heartland, Gauteng.
Eskom’s general manager for water and environmental operations, Nandha Govender, told Sapa a drought would see the region “pushing the boundaries” of available water supply.
“The capacity of the Vaal system is a major risk. We see the crucial period being between now and 2020, when Phase II of the LHWP starts delivering water.
“The risk lies with large industrial water users, agriculture and the municipalities… It’s a situation we don’t want to get into.”
Govender also said although 2020 was the date set by government for Phase II to start delivering more water to the region, large projects of this nature often missed such targets, and the first water might only start flowing from Lesotho in 2021, or 2022. Continue reading