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Area of supply

The area under investigation is the entire Luvuvhu and Letaba Water Management Area (WMA) and small parts of the adjacent WMAs. Most of the development in this water management area is agriculture based, with strong contributions by irrigated agriculture and afforestation. Areas under natural vegetation are mostly used for livestock farming, with severe overgrazing experienced over large parts of the water management area. Isolated mining developments are found in its southern half.

Thohoyandou, Tzaneen and Giyani are the largest urban centres in WMA, with some agro-based industries, mainly in the Tzaneen area. The Kruger National Park (KNP) lies along the eastern boundary and occupies approximately 35% of the WMA.

Sources of water

The water resources in this WMA can be described as fully developed. The Letaba River currently exceeds its yield capability. Regulation is provided by the Middle Letaba, Ebenezer and Tzaneen Dams. The construction of Nandoni/Mutoti dam and operating it together with Albasini, Vondo and Damani Dams has led to full utilisation of the Luvuvhu River.

A better understanding of the resource is needed and other alternatives need to be investigated in order to bring back the system into balance.

Planning for the future

The Limpopo Provincial Department of Agriculture (LDA) has embarked on a programme of revitalising of irrigation schemes that have fallen into disuse. This has put reasonable pressure on the water resource. To further exacerbate the situation, most urban and industrial developments, as well as some dense rural settlements, have been established in locations remote from large watercourses and in most cases these locations are perennially dry with no surface water. As a consequence, water has to be delivered to these people or other alternative sources have to be identified.

Thohoyandou was identified as one of the 26 areas key to the national economy, but recently the town has been experiencing severe water shortages. The completion of water treatment works at Nandoni dam is expected to ensure water supply in future, but without proper water resource management strategies there will be no guarantees that the water supply situation will significantly improve.

This study will have to come up with the most efficient, robust and sustainable strategies for operating the system. Furthermore, a proper water demand and conservation plan should be formulated.

To date the Middle Letaba is in a serious water supply crisis, which has been, aggravated by a series of droughts, coupled by poor water management practices in the operation of the system. To ameliorate the situation the Department together with the local authorities and water users are implementing a series of actions, ranging from water restrictions, groundwater development to the implementation of Water Conservation and Water Demand Management measures. These actions are mainly to address the short term crisis.

The reconciliation strategy study aims at consolidating these actions together with long term strategies, putting emphasis into detailed investigation of the water resources, particularly groundwater.


Implementation: Study Steering Committee

A Study Steering Committee (SSC) comprising key role players and decision-makers in the study area held its first meeting in November 2011. The SSC provides guidance for the development of the Strategy and to make sure that the various sectors are participating in its development. Various sectors receive water from the Luvuvhu and Letaba Water Supply System to maintain their operations. These include agriculture, irrigation, industry, urban and rural communities. These representatives play a significant role in decisions regarding the management of the Luvuvhu and Letaba Water Supply System and need a committee to ensure that their requirements can be met.

It is envisaged that the SSC will be converted into a Strategy Steering Committee towards the end of the study. The role will then shift towards maintaining and monitoring the implementation of the Strategy on a continuous basis.