Impact Assessment for De Hoop Dam to be Released

For five weeks following August 18, 2005 the public can review the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the construction of the 80m high dam on the Steelpoort River and its associated water reticulation system (the Olifants River Water Resources Development Project ORWRDP).

After several months of specialist studies the report is now ready to be circulated amongst interested and affected parties.

The proposed De Hoop Dam will inhibit water flow in one of the Olifants River's largest tributaries in order to provide water to nearby mines and communities. The dam is projected to be built in Mpumalanga, but would mainly supply water to the Limpopo Province. The EIR has taken significantly longer to complete than initially projected.

A record of decision on the construction of dam and infrastructure was intended to be announced this June, according to a preliminary schedule created after President Mbeki announced the start of the ORWRDP in his state of the nation address. Once the five-week review period is up, the report will be updated and submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

After consultation with provincial authorities the record of decision will finally be issued. The scoping report for the EIR raised concerns about how the dam would affect water flows in the already sluggish Olifants River, the effect on endemic fish species, the flooding of some unusual and spectacular plant specimens, the social burden placed on local municipalities if mining activities were to increase, and many other issues.

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