Harnessing the Water Resources of Lesotho: Water Supply and Hydropower Generation
The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) and CDM Smith’s program management team are working together toward two mutual goals: infrastructure development and socioeconomic success. The team is not only generating water supply and hydropower, but providing the tools for social, economic, and quality of life improvements for communities. “When we talk about livelihood restoration and social development, there are several elements to consider,” said Makananelo Kumalo, environmental, social and public health functional manager. “When we have electricity, it means children will be able to read for longer when they prepare for their studies. When we have access roads, it will be easier for people to access health facilities. When we enable economic activity, we enable access to resources and services.”
CDM Smith is functioning as the Management Unit for the LHDA Phase II Water Project to oversee more than 45 construction, engineering design, and environmental and social consultancy contracts for LHDA. “The scope and scale of this infrastructure calls for diverse technical expertise, significant program management experience, and time-tested tools and processes to manage the various components as a cohesive program” said Dave Spector, program manager for the effort.
When we prioritize job creation, train our communities and provide them with necessary skills, it will improve their livelihoods even beyond construction.
With technical experts across an array of disciplines, the team has carried out contract preparation and administration, managed design consultants, procured construction, and served as an extension of the client to oversee construction. “Through the program management team, CDM Smith has served as an extension and trusted partner of LHDA by collaborating to deliver large and complex civil works and community development initiatives that support development for both Lesotho and South Africa,” said Ntsoli Maiketso, LHDA Phase II divisional manager.
The team is developing major infrastructure projects, including the construction of the 166-meter Polihali Dam to impound the Senqu River and construction of 38-kilometer transfer tunnel with a nominal bore of five meters. These efforts will connect the new Polihali Reservoir to the existing Katse Reservoir, in turn doubling the supply capacity of raw water to drought-stressed Gauteng Province in South Africa. 70 kilometers of new roads and 98 kilometers of roadway improvements are under construction, with feeder roads slated for design in 2024. Thomas Chivese, engineering functional manager of advanced infrastructure, emphasizes that the roadway infrastructure “will connect villages to the country’s road network in new ways while improving access to project construction sites.”
The development of bulk power and communications infrastructure will connect communities across the region in novel ways, including two new substations, upgrades to five pre-existing substations, construction of new 132kV transmission power lines, and provision of fiber optic cable and radio links. The Oxbow hydropower project, soon to be designed, is anticipated to provide nearly 100 MW of electricity. “Our goal is to enhance lives while providing critical infrastructure,” Chivese said.
CDM Smith has served as an extension and trusted partner of LHDA by collaborating to deliver large and complex civil works and community development initiatives.
The efforts were initiated to mutually benefit both Lesotho and South Africa with the objective to minimize environmental and social impacts on communities by implementing programs like integrated catchment management, wetlands rehabilitation, and public health. “This project is fundamentally changing the landscape. With that comes irreversible change to the surrounding communities,” said Kumalo. The programs are advancing social development elements, championing initiatives like improved water and sanitation, provision of roads and electricity, training and support for agriculture and tourism, and job creation.