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Water Infrastructure: Bulk Transfer Schemes

Bulk water transfer schemes have been developed in the Limpopo River basin to address the severe water shortages.  Transfers are either classified as intrabasin or interbasin: intrabasin transfers constitute water transfers within a country, from one country to another, or from one sub-basin to another; while interbasin transfers constitute water transfers from one river basin to another. 

As shown in the table below, the Limpopo River basin there are four major interbasin transfer schemes and two major intrabasin transfer schemes. 

Major interbasin and intrabasin water transfer schemes related to the Limpopo River basin.

Name of water transfer scheme Basins Involved Countries involved directly in the scheme 1
Countries involved / affected indirectly 2
Interbasin water transfer schemes
Komati Scheme Incomati to Limpopo South Africa Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe
Usutu Scheme Usutu to Limpopo South Africa Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe
Grootdraai Emergency Augmentation Scheme Orange-Senqu to Limpopo South Africa Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe
Vaal-Crocodile Orange-Senqu to Limpopo South Africa Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe
Intrabasin water transfer schemes
North-South Water Carrier (within Limpopo basin) Shashe to Notwane Botswana Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Molatedi Dam to Gaborone Marico to Notswana Botswana, South Africa Mozambique Zimbabwe

1. Countries initiating and implementing the transfer scheme.

2. Countries sharing involved basin and which consequently are affected by the scheme.

Source: FAO 2004

The interbasin schemes transfer water to the Limpopo River basin from other basins, and all occur within South Africa. There are no bulk water schemes transferring water out of the water-scarce Limpopo River basin.

Water imported from the Usutu, Vaal and Komati Rivers in South Africa is used to support the high water demands of the power stations located in the Upper Elephants River basin (FAO 2004).  Water imported from the Vaal in the Orange-Senqu River basin, and reuse of return flows in the Crocodile river, provide a surplus of water in the Crocodile used to supplement water in the Mogalakwena, Mokolo and Elephants River basins.

Water is transferred from the Shashe to the Notwane River, Botswana.
Source: Vogel 2005
( click to enlarge )