Lesotho Water System That Supplies Johannesburg to Shut

Lesotho’s Highlands water system, which supplies water from the mountainous kingdom to the South Africa province that includes Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, will shut the next two months for maintenance work.

Gauteng province, South Africa’s industrial hub, gets part of its water supplies from the system. The Highlands tunnels must be inspected at least every decade, which requires they be drained completely, meaning no water flows through to the Vaal River system, Cabinet spokeswoman Phumla Williams said.

“The total volume of water scheduled to be transferred to the Vaal system will however still be transferred,” she said today in Pretoria. Water transfers in recent months were increased to make up for the two-month shutdown and provide a storage buffer to the Vaal dam. “The assurance of water supply to the Gauteng area will therefore not be negatively impacted,” the spokeswoman said.

Most of the country’s big companies and the stock exchange are in Johannesburg. Gauteng also has auto plants, gold mines and steel mills. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Africa’s largest gold producer, and German automaker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG have operations in Gauteng.

Lesotho and South Africa, Africa’s biggest economy, plan a second phase of the Highlands project, costing 7.3 billion maloti ($886 million), that’s due to be completed in 2017. The project includes building a 165-meter-high (541-foot) dam in Lesotho and additional tunnels through its mountain passes.

South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs is discussing contingency plans with municipalities along the Liebenbergsvlei and Caledon rivers should water supplies be disrupted as a result of decreased flows from Lesotho, Williams also said.

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