Inland Branch - Lesotho Highland Water Project Tour
The Concrete Society of Southern Africa organised its first regional trip to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which was open to all members.The team departed from Johannesburg on 27th May at 5:00am and returned on 29th. The tour was led by Eddie Correira from Chryso SA and facilitated by Roelof Jacobs, Chairman of the Inland Branch and a director of the Society. There were 28 concrete enthusiasts participating.
The tour was well attended by Sephaku, PPC, Lafarge, Afrisam, BASF and a few individual members and customers from the industry.
As a result of low rainfall and drought in South Africa and Lesotho,the dams were not full to the capacity but at least 75%, so not all compartments and gates of the dams were open for the water to flow.
The tour commenced in Metolong, to view the newly constructed dam which has the sole objective of supplying water to Maseru and the surrounding towns for both domestic and industrial use.The Metolong dam has a capacity of just over 60 million cubic metres.
It is through the LHWP that Lesotho can now generate its own electricity through Muela Hydro power.The Powerhouse has 3 Turbines that use water transferred from the Katse and Mohale Dams through the Katse Intake Tower to generate 72 megawatts of electricity for domestic and export purposes.
The journey continued to Mohale dam, which is currently the second largest dam in the LHWP. Mohale is a back-up reserve for Katse and the two are connected by a tunnel. Mohale is the highest concrete rock-filed dam in Africa. A 32 km tunnel transfers water from Mohale reservoir, and is designed for water to flow in either direction, which members found fascinating. Generally, the flows towards Katse as its level is drawn down to deliver water to South Africa.
On the night of the arrival the group was well accommodated by the Katse Lodge near the dam site.
The second day of the trip, after a long, but pleasant drive on the Maluti Route from Maseru to Butha Buthe, the team ended the day relaxed with a braai at the guest house in Ficksburg.
The team enjoyed the drive on the winding roads of Lesotho and the snow as we made our way through the Leribe district in Buthe Buthe en route to the Muela Hydro Power station.
Katse is currently the biggest catchment area of the LHWP, the construction of the Katse Dam started in February 1991 and was completed in May 1997. It is a double curvature arch that is 185 metres high,710 metres at crest and has a capacity of 2.34 million m³ and provides South Africa with approximately 36 000 litres of water per second. Katse then feeds into the transfer channel, which is 45 km long and connects to the Muela Hydro Power Plant.
MUELA HYDRO POWER PLANT
Muela is the tail dam of the LHWP which generates 72 megawatt electricity for domestic and export use. The Muela Hydropower Station is situated mid-way between the Katse Dam in Lesotho and the Ash River Outfall in South Africa. Lesotho depended fully on South Africa for electricity supply prior to the project, but with phase 2 of the project in the pipeline, the increased electricity capacity is anticipated to supply both Lesotho and South Africa.
THE ASH RIVER OUTFALL
On the third, and final day, the team proceeded to Clarens, Free State where the last tail of the LHWP delivers water to South Africa.
The Ash River outfall is a concrete tunnel outlet structure which is built on the gradient so that water moves uphill, thereby slowing the flow of water that enters into the Ash River watercourse. This helps to dissipate the energy of the increased water volume in the area, thereby mitigating the environmental impact in the area.
From the Ash River Outfall, the water follows the natural watercourse into the Liebenbergsvlei and Wilge Rivers as they wind towards the Vaal Dam, over a distance of 200 kms.
The trip was very well organised, educational and fun, and participants got to interact in the name of concrete. On behalf of the CSSA, Roelof Jacobs thanked Eddie Correira for his effort, patience and ability to handle all the questions that were asked during the tour.
The weather was beautiful in Clarens and the team was well relaxed - some took a walk and a coffee break in the small town of Clarens and collected a few souvenirs.