Drought affects power generation

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Pascalinah Kabi

THE Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has said electricity power generation at the ‘Muela Hydropower Station has been severely affected by the low water levels in the country’s major dams.

LHDA Divisional Manager for Phase II Tente Tente made the revelations while addressing the media during this week’s tour of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase II project in Mokhotlong.

Mr Tente said there were times when the country was failing to generate the envisioned 72 megawatts of electricity at ‘Muela Hydropower Station due to the drought-induced decline in water levels.

The ‘Muela Hydropower Station was designed and constructed in terms of the 1986 Treaty signed between the Lesotho and South African governments.

It is situated mid-way between the Katse Dam and Ash River Outfall in South Africa.

The station uses water from the Katse and Mohale Dams through the Katse Intake Tower to generate the 72 megawatts of electricity.

However, due to the recent El-Nino-induced drought, the two major dams had experienced reduced water levels which significantly affected power generation.

The Ministry of Water Affairs announced in September, that Katse reservoir level had dropped to 2021.441 meters above sea level (masl) from a maximum of 2025.598 masl.

At Mohale reservoir, the water levels stood at 2039.77 masl, a scenario described as worrying by Mr Tente.

“Muela Hydropower Station has a capacity to generate 72 megawatts of electricity but at times we are unable to generate that because of the low water inflows into our dams,” he said, adding the water could only last for two years.

He said an increase in water levels at the Katse reservoir, as well as the construction of the Polihali Dam, would ensure the country easily met the daily target of generating 72 megawatts.

He said electricity generation would become consistent and satisfactory in a long run once normal water availability was achieved.

Meanwhile, the authority said they were working hard to rehabilitate wetlands supplying Katse and Mohale dams as part of efforts to increase water levels in these dams.

 

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