In the current drought conditions, a R4 million maintenance programme to bolster the Clanwilliam Dam canal system to stem unnecessary losses has resulted in a more sustainable water supply to the agriculture sector.
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, visited Clanwilliam and Vredendal yesterday (25 October 2017), where proactive maintenance is being completed on the canal system transporting water from the Clanwilliam Dam.
In terms of the agreement with the National Department of Water and Sanitation, the Lower Olifants River Water Users Association (LORWUA) is responsible for the maintenance and management of the infrastructure.
There have been several breaks in sections of the canal in recent years due to aging infrastructure. Technical reports since 2010 have stated the need to strengthen the dam wall but this has not been done.
“Although the maintenance of dam infrastructure is not the responsibility of the Western Cape Government, we have seen the negative impacts that canal breaks have had on the agriculture sector in the lower Olifants River area,” said Minister Winde.
“In 2015, we allocated emergency funding of close to R1 million to procure a generator and water pumps to stabilise the water supply to farms and residents in the area, after a section of the dam near Klawer collapsed. Estimates of the loss to agriculture for the 2015 incident were around R100 million. That is why we have committed to a proactive maintenance plan.”
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is investing R4 million into the proactive maintenance plan.
According to the plan, the Department of Agriculture assists LORWUA in identifying the most critical areas for maintenance.
The Dam provides irrigation water to some 700 farmers irrigating 16 000 ha as well as water to the towns of Klawer, Vredendal, Lutzville, Doringbaai and Strandfontein.
“In 2015, we invested R1.226 million in fixing a 1 200m stretch near Verdeling. This year, repair work on a 1 600m tunnel section of the canal near Bruinkrans was completed.” This is the repair work Minister Winde inspected yesterday. In the next financial year, R1.5 million will be made available for the next phase of the proactive maintenance work.
“The Clanwilliam Dam is the main water supply for the local agriculture community. At the start of this year, a section of the canal broke and a temporary steel structure was put in place to replace the broken canal lining. During this maintenance period, we replaced this structure with a concrete lining”.
“As part of our proactive maintenance plan, three stretches of high-risk areas in the canal system were identified, and we’re pleased to report that these sections have already been repaired.”
The maintenance programme started in 2015, and is set to be concluded in 2020.
For media queries, kindly contact:
Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities
Responsible for Tourism, Economic Development and Agriculture
Western Cape Government
142 Long Street, Cape Town