LHDA sets the record straight

LHDA sets the record straight

The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) cherishes this opportunity to address a few misinterpretations and inaccuracies from some of the opinion Leaders when talking about Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

The Definition of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project
It must be understood that water transfer and hydropower generation always go hand in hand in the implementation of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
The very definition of the Project in the Treaty states that the water delivery system will be used to generate electricity for Lesotho’s needs.

This is what happened under Phase I when the water transfer system was used to generate electricity at the ‘Muela hydropower station. This is how it is going to be under Phase II of the Project.
Under the definitions section of the Phase II Agreement it is clearly stated that “Phase II” means the second phase of the Project to be implemented in terms of this Agreement in two distinct systems, namely a water delivery system to augment the delivery of water to South Africa and a hydropower generation system.

It continues to state that “Phase II shall include a pump storage scheme, associated transmission lines and appurtenant works by utilising the existing Katse Reservoir as the lower reservoir and a new upper reservoir in the Kobong Valley, or any other similar scheme, as contemplated by Article 8 of this Agreement”.
Studies that were investigating the possibilities for hydropower generation have concluded that implementation of the Kobong pump storage scheme be deferred for the time being given the reigning economic conditions.

Furthermore, the pump storage scheme would need large amounts of high cost electricity to pump water to an upper storage facility during off-peak, an exercise that is costly, unsustainable and would not make Lesotho independent in supplying its electricity requirements but would instead increase its reliance on external suppliers of
electricity.

The work on exploring conventional hydropower generation (one like at ‘Muela hydropower stations) is at an advanced stage.
A number of options were investigated and finally narrowed down to three sites that were identified for the implementation of the hydropower component of the second phase of the Project. Three sites being investigates are as follows:

Oxbow-on the Maliba-mats’o River at Oxbow a peak power 90mw plant can be built and the water will flow by gravity to Clarens South Africa.
Senqu B-Near Tsoelike in Qacha’s Nek this plant can generate 82mw peak power and the water will flow down the Senqu river
Senqu D-Near Mount Moorosi, Quthing this plant can generate 30mw base load power and the water will flow down the Senqu River.

The LHDA Board
In terms of the Treaty the two Countries established the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission (LHWC). This was previously called the Joint Permanent Technical Commission). The LHWC appoints the LHDA Board which in turn oversees the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.
It is important to note that the actual composition of the Board at any time depends on many factors such as who applies, who better qualifies, when the tenure of a member expires and how quickly the vacancies can be filled etc.

Currently, the eight Directors in the Board of the LHDA are from Lesotho and one is from RSA. The LHDA Board members are appointed on merit following a rigorous selection process.
The Board exercises an oversight responsibility over the LHDA to ensure that the LHDA implements this bi-national Project for the benefit of the two countries and their peoples.

It is also important to underscore the fact that the Board deliberations are on the merits of the proposals that have been submitted by the LHDA Management for consideration. The decisions of the Board are further subject to a second layer of consideration and approval by the LHWC where decisions are made by consensus and not favouring one party over another.
It is clear therefore that the decisions made on the LHWP issues are reached after careful consideration of all the facts by competent people.

Staff reporter 

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