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Dams and Infrastructure: South Africa

There are many major dams in South Africa within the Limpopo River basin, with the total being around 160 (LBPTC 2010). Within these, 15 have storage capacities above 100 Mm³ while 34 have capacities between 10 Mm³ and 100 Mm³. The total capacity is almost 2 500 Mm³ (FAO 2004). As shown in the Dams interactive component to the right, most dams in the South African portion of the basin are located in the south in the Crocodile, Upper Olifants, and Middle Olifants catchments. 

Domestic Use

The following dams are key sources for domestic water in the Limpopo River basin in South Africa (capacity in parentheses):

  • Loskop (362,0 Mm³)
  • Molatedi (201,0 Mm³)
  • Tzaneen (157,0 Mm³)
  • Witbank (104,0 Mm³)
  • Roodekoppies (103 Mm³)
  • Arabie (99,0 Mm³)
  • Ebenezer (69,1 Mm³)
  • Vaalkop (56,0 Mm³)
  • Middelburg (48,1 Mm³)
  • Klipvoor (42,1 Mm³)
  • Roodeplaat (41,2 Mm³)
  • Vondo (30,5 Mm³)
  • Albasini (28,2 Mm³)

Source: LBPTC 2010

Loskop Dam

The largest dam within the basin is the Loskop Dam on the Olifants River with a storage capacity, as noted above, of 375 Mm³. It is located in the southern portion of the Middle Olifants catchment, and is one of the oldest dams in South Africa, built in 1939. It is a gravity and arch type dam, primarily used for irrigation and has a height of 54 m.

Loskop Dam, South Africa.
Source: Ashton 2010
( click to enlarge )

Mutshedzi Dam

The Mutshedzi Dam is the next largest dam in the South African portion of the Limpopo River basin with a storage capacity of 216 Mm³ and a height of 22.5 m (LBPTC 2010). The dam was built in 1990 and is predominantly used for irrigation.

Rhenosterkop, Molatedi, and Hartebeespoort Dams

The next three largest dams are Rhenosterkop, Molatedi, and Hartbebeespoort. They range in storage capacity from 198 to 206 Mm³ with heights from 29 to 59 m (LBPTC 2010).  Rhenosterkop and Molatedi were built in 1984 and 1986, respectively.  The Hartebeespport Dam, located in Crocodile catchment, is the oldest dam in South Africa, as well as the Limpopo River basin, and was built as an arch dam in 1925 (LBPTC 2010).