Tzaneen - The extension of the Tzaneen Dam in Limpopo is set to start as part of a plan to address the long-term water and sanitation needs.
The first phase of the R2bn Great Letaba River Water Development Project is expected to raise the Tzaneen Dam wall spillway by 3m, increasing its storage capacity by nearly 25%.
"The additional water provided by the raised dam wall will help to meet the needs of about 240 000 people, especially rural domestic users who currently rely on groundwater supplied from boreholes," said spokesperson for the national Department of Water and Sanitation Sputnik Ratau.
He said the raised wall would improve water availability for resource-poor farmers who require dedicated support to become commercially successful and gain a share of the existing market for their products.
The expanded dam will also bring relief to local commercial farmers, who currently produce about 90% of South Africa's tomatoes, 40% of its avocados and mangoes, and 20% of its bananas.
More projects lined up
Demolition is scheduled for completion by July and will involve a combination of controlled explosions using chemical rock-breaking agents, and mechanical methods such as jack hammering.
"It is expected that about 300 direct and indirect jobs will be created during construction of the dam wall," said Ratau.
The second phase of the project is expected to commence in October and will involve the building of the new Nwamitwa Dam, the re-alignment of local roads and the installation of bulk water distribution infrastructure.
Plans to expand existing and build new dams were announced by President Jacob Zuma in 2015.
Other projects included the dam on the Mzimvubu River in the Eastern Cape, the expansion of the Clanwilliam Dam in the Western Cape, the Hazelmere Dam in Kwazulu-Natal and the Polihali Dam in Lesotho, which will provide water to Gauteng.