Area of supply
The area under investigation is the entire Luvuvhu and Letaba Water Management
Area (WMA) and small parts of the adjacent WMAs. Most of the development in this
water management area is agriculture based, with strong contributions by
irrigated agriculture and afforestation. Areas under natural vegetation are
mostly used for livestock farming, with severe overgrazing experienced over
large parts of the water management area. Isolated mining developments are found
in its southern half.
Thohoyandou, Tzaneen and Giyani are the largest urban centres in WMA, with some
agro-based industries, mainly in the Tzaneen area. The Kruger National Park
(KNP) lies along the eastern boundary and occupies approximately 35% of the WMA.
Sources of water
The water resources in this WMA can be described as fully developed. The Letaba
River currently exceeds its yield capability. Regulation is provided by the
Middle Letaba, Ebenezer and Tzaneen Dams. The construction of Nandoni/Mutoti dam
and operating it together with Albasini, Vondo and Damani Dams has led to full
utilisation of the Luvuvhu River.
A better understanding of the resource is needed and other alternatives need to
be investigated in order to bring back the system into balance.
Planning for the future
The Limpopo Provincial Department of Agriculture (LDA) has embarked on a
programme of revitalising of irrigation schemes that have fallen into disuse.
This has put reasonable pressure on the water resource. To further exacerbate
the situation, most urban and industrial developments, as well as some dense
rural settlements, have been established in locations remote from large
watercourses and in most cases these locations are perennially dry with no
surface water. As a consequence, water has to be delivered to these people or
other alternative sources have to be identified.
Thohoyandou was identified as one of the 26 areas key to the national economy,
but recently the town has been experiencing severe water shortages. The
completion of water treatment works at Nandoni dam is expected to ensure water
supply in future, but without proper water resource management strategies there
will be no guarantees that the water supply situation will significantly
This study will have to come up with the most efficient, robust and sustainable
strategies for operating the system. Furthermore, a proper water demand and
conservation plan should be formulated.
To date the Middle Letaba is in a serious water supply crisis, which has been,
aggravated by a series of droughts, coupled by poor water management practices
in the operation of the system. To ameliorate the situation the Department
together with the local authorities and water users are implementing a series of
actions, ranging from water restrictions, groundwater development to the
implementation of Water Conservation and Water Demand Management measures. These
actions are mainly to address the short term crisis.
The reconciliation strategy study aims at consolidating these actions together
with long term strategies, putting emphasis into detailed investigation of the
water resources, particularly groundwater.
Implementation: Study Steering Committee
A Study Steering Committee (SSC) comprising key role players and decision-makers
in the study area held its first meeting in November 2011. The SSC provides
guidance for the development of the Strategy and to make sure that the various
sectors are participating in its development. Various sectors receive water from
the Luvuvhu and Letaba Water Supply System to maintain their operations. These
include agriculture, irrigation, industry, urban and rural communities. These
representatives play a significant role in decisions regarding the management of
the Luvuvhu and Letaba Water Supply System and need a committee to ensure that
their requirements can be met.
It is envisaged that the SSC will be converted into a Strategy Steering Committee
towards the end of the study. The role will then shift towards maintaining and
monitoring the implementation of the Strategy on a continuous basis.