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Reconciliation Strategy for the Vaal River System

Area of supply

The study area comprises the water resources of the Vaal River System (VRS) which includes the catchments of the Upper, Middle and the Lower Vaal Water Management Areas (WMAs) – from Kuruman in the west to Ermelo in the east and Johannesburg in the north to the Lesotho border in the south. Other sub-systems also form part of the Integrated Vaal River System.


Sources of water

Due to the extensive development in the VRS and Crocodile (West) WMA, which are supplied from the Upper Vaal WMA, the local surface water resources in all three the Vaal WMAs have been fully exploited more than three decades ago.

Planning for the future

The Reconciliation Strategy for the Vaal River System was completed in 2009 by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and a Strategy Steering Committee (SSC) was formed in July of the same year to oversee the implementation thereof. The objectives of the strategy is to reconcile the current and future water requirements with the available water by implementing appropriate interventions to increase the available water, conserve water through conservation and demand management measures as well as improve the water quality in the river systems.

The VRS consists of three of the 19 WMAs in South Africa.

Over decades the water resources of the VRS were augmented to match the growing water requirements and major inter-basin transfer schemes were developed to convey water into the system from the high rainfall regions of the upper Thukela and Usutu rivers as well as from the headwaters of the Orange River in the highlands of Lesotho.

The VRS supplies water to about 60% of economy and 45% of population – the mines and industry on the Mpumalanga Highveld, the bulk of Eskom’s coal fired power stations, Gauteng, the North West and Free State goldfields, Kimberley, small towns as well as large irrigation schemes. There are complex issues impacting on the VRS, because it is a dynamic area with a huge growth in water requirements. All users in the area contribute to the effluent and the complex water quality issues.


Implementation: Strategy Steering Committee

A Strategy Steering Committee (SSC) was established to take the Reconciliation Strategy forward as the next step in the management of the Vaal River System.

Membership of the SSC is similar to that of the Project Steering Committees during the previous phase when the strategy for the Vaal River System was developed and consists of representatives of agriculture, local authority, water service providers, mines, energy and industry sectors, national departments, provincial government and civil society representing a wide variety of stakeholder groups in the Vaal River System.

The objectives of the SSC are to:

  • Ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the Vaal River System Reconciliation Strategy;

  • Ensure the implementation and recommendations of the Vaal River System Integrated Water Quality Management Strategy;

  • Update both Strategies to ensure that both remain relevant; and

  • Ensure that the Strategies and their recommendations are appropriately communicated.