Drought Relief!
Working with partners to keep the Olifants River flowing

  • In response to the crippling drought and non-compliance with Environmental Water Requirement (EWR) in the lower Olifants since 2016 – and in support of good adaptive governance – we have worked towards keeping the lower Olifants River flowing over the course of the drought.
  • Water cannot be abstracted when the Blyde Dam drops below 25%, placing downstream users at risk including 10,000 permanent and seasonal jobs in the agricultural sector, water for Phalaborwa and surrounds and flows into the iconic Kruger Park and into Mozambique’s Corumana Dam. AWARD has initiated mitigatory plans to avoid such risks and threats to resilience through securing a shift of water use from the Blyde to the de Hoop Dam to augment flows in the lower Olifants.
  • A major success for RESILIM-O has been the partnership between AWARD, SANParks & Water Resources Planning (Department of Water and Sanitation) which led to a release of water from the de Hoop Dam for the first time on the 23rd of September 2016. Since then, AWARD has been given the responsibility of monitoring the flows and running our RESILIM-O de Hoop-Blyde release model when necessary to recommend further releases until we are out of the emergency. Releases were made in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, resulting in the Environmental Water Requirement (EWR) being met at Kruger National Park’s EWR site, Mamba Weir — a major success in a time of drought!
  • This experience has given planners and users a window into a future of reduced flows, especially under climate change and illustrated how collaborative action can work. The drought has highlighted that in times of low flows and stress, the situation has become critical and unless there is sufficient rainfall, flows will continue to decline and may cease in the main stem. Most importantly, stakeholders need to work together.