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The Lephalale municipal area falls in the Limpopo River catchment area. The Mokolo (previously known as the Mogol) and the Lephalala (also referred to as the Phalala) rivers run through the municipal area to the north, with the Matlabas River running along the south eastern boundary and the Mogalakwena River along the eastern boundary. All four rivers feed into the Limpopo River which forms the north western border of South Africa with Botswana.

The Mokolo Dam (formerly known as the Hans Strijdom Dam) was constructed in the late 1970s and completed in July 1980, to supply water to Matimba Power Station, Grootegeluk Mine, Lephalale (Ellisras) Municipality and for irrigation downstream of the dam. Based on the water infrastructure, the current water availability and water use allows only limited spare yield existing for future allocations for the anticipated surge in economic development in the area.

Large parts of the Mokolo River catchment area are located on the Waterberg coalfields where, according to preliminary estimates, almost half of South Africa's in-situ coal reserves are situated. As such, the Waterberg has long been considered the country's major coal resource for the future, especially once the current mining areas in the Witbank-Highveld coalfields of the Mpumalanga province have been depleted. As a result, major developments are planned for the Lephalale area. As a direct result of the above developments, the demand for water in the Lephalale area will significantly increase over the next 20 years.

A water demand curve was produced using demand projects provided by the large users (i.e Eskom, Exxaro and Sasol). The projected water requirements for the Municipality were derived using existing households in Lephalale, known number of households per mine/plant/power station (provided by large users) and using unit consumption rates. Demand forecasts for the interim period (up to end 2014) were adjusted to match the demand with water available in the Mokolo Dam.

Due to the limited availability of water in the Lephalale area, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) commissioned the Mokolo Crocodile (West) Water Augmentation Project (MCWAP) to establish how the future water demands could be met. The infrastructure options considered to augment water supply to the Lephalale area include the following:

  1. De-bottlenecking of an existing pipeline, owned by Exxaro;
  2. Phase 1: Augment the supply from Mokolo Dam; and
  3. Phase 2: Transfer scheme from the Crocodile River (West) to the Lephalale area.

DWAF separated the scope of the MCWAP Feasibility Study into the following five key modules:

  • Project Coordination and Management Module;
  • Technical Study Module;
  • Environmental Management Module;
  • Regional Economics Module; and
  • Institutional and Financial Module.
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