Lesotho Highlands Water Project, Lesotho

The award-winning, multibillion Rand, bi-national Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is widely regarded as an African success story. It has pioneered the way for peaceful cooperation and mutually beneficial socio-economic development across the continent. Aurecon has played various key roles in the project since its inception six decades ago. 

In 1986, the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa signed a treaty to harness the water resources of the Lesotho Highlands to supply water to South Africa and generate power for Lesotho. 

Phase 1 of the project comprised the major water transfer and hydropower components involving the construction of tunnels and dams, including the iconic 185 m high Katse Dam, designed to divert water from the Senqu (Orange) River to the Ash River in South Africa. 

Some of the challenges of the project included overcoming the large-scale, technically complex nature of the water transfer project, working in a harsh mountain environment and pioneering new systems to manage the biophysical and social challenges of the project.

In 2005, a Phase 2 feasibility study was undertaken in two stages aimed at identifying further development options and investigating the preferred option in detail, which culminated in the recommendation of the Polihali Dam and transfer tunnel for implementation. Procurement of consulting services for the implementation of Phase 2 is currently underway.

The LHWP is one of the largest ongoing development projects in the world. In 2006, the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) named the LHWP as the Most Outstanding Engineering Achievement of the Century.

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