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The Groot Letaba catchment falls within the Luvubu-Letaba Water Management Area (WMA), one of the 19 WMAs into which South Africa is divided. Human settlement, agricultural production and tourism between the Drakensberg escarpment and the Kruger National Park have placed demands on the water resources of the Groot Letaba River which can no longer be met within reasonable risks of shortages from the existing infrastructure.

Due to this situation the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is reassessing how best to manage the supply of water from the Groot Letaba River system. The system includes Dap Naude Dam, Ebenhaezer Dam, Tzaneen Dam and other smaller dams. Practical implementation of water releases for the Reserve in the Groot Letaba River system as a whole is being investigated. Investigations includes an assessment of the yield characteristics of all available resources in the river system serving the wide variety of user sectors and abstraction points.

Catchment area [click for larger view]

A Feasibility Study, to investigate these needs, was conducted in 1998. As a result of the study it was proposed that the following be undertaken:

  • construction of a large dam on the Groot Letaba River at the Nwamitwa site, downstream of the confluence of the Nwanezi River,
  • realignment of the roads to accommodate the dam, and
  • construction of bulk water pipelines and pump stations from the dam for water supply for domestic and industrial use in the area,
  • raising of the Tzaneen Dam wall be considered.

DWS is now reviewing the water supply needs of the Groot Letaba catchment area and post feasibility bridging studies are being conducted to confirm whether the recommendations made previously are still relevant and how they should be taken forward. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) aimed at obtaining environmental authorization for the proposed recommendations is being undertaken.

Environmental authorisation in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations under Section 24 (5) of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), (Act No 107 of 1998) and ) and other legislation is required before the infrastructure components of the project may be implemented. Therefore, an environmental authorization process commenced in May 2007 and will continue until the last quarter of 2008.

The environmental decision-making authority is the National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), in close collaboration with the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism. Scoping and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be conducted according to the provisions of the NEMA.

Relevant study reports can be found under the Documents tab.