One would think that this small,dry, brown, mountainous country would not have much to offer in the way of export so it comes as quite a surprise to many that one of Lesotho’s biggest exports is water. Alongside electricity and diamonds, water makes up a large portion of the export income for Lesotho. South Africa pays R37 million per year for water derived from the Lesotho Highlands water project. Katse Dam was built as the first phase of this project. (pronounced cut-sea)
Katse dam is 50 kilometers long and holds a volume of 1 950 million m³ of water. It is the highest dam in Africa and also the second largest in Africa.
- Height – 185 m
- Crest length – 710 m
- Design – double arch, concrete
- Concrete – 2,320,000 cubic meters
- 1993 meters above sea level
We took a tour into the dam wall but I was not allowed to take any photographs inside unfortunately. It was very interesting and is quite an engineering feat.
Water is taken in at this tower and is transferred via a 45 km, 4 m diameter underground tunnel to a hydroelectric station near Muela after which it is piped a further 35km to just outside the town of Clarens in South Africa. The pipeline itself is tunneled through the mountains and water travels downhill all the way making use of gravity for flow.
Here you can see the water exiting the pipeline and being fed into the ash river.
If you are ever in the area it really is well worth a visit to the dam.
This is the last of a series of three posts about Lesotho. You can read the first two posts but clicking on the links below.