Windhoek-The construction of the Neckartal Dam in the //Kharas Region is nearing completion and the envisaged final date of completion is around December 2017, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Percy Misika, revealed.
In an interview with New Era on how far this project is among other planned water sources projects, Misika said that its completion would be followed by the development of an irrigation system before benefits can be reaped from the dam.
The project is expected to support irrigated agriculture.
The dam will be Namibia’s biggest as it is about three times bigger than the Hardap Dam near Mariental in the Hardap Region.
Neckartal is being built some 40 kilometres north-west of Keetmanshoop in the Fish River in the Snyfontein area of Berseba village.
An Italian company Salini SPA secured the N$2.8 billion tender for the construction of the dam.
The dam is one of Namibia’s biggest investments, with the creation of an estimated 12,000 permanent jobs after its completion.
Misika said the government is as well strengthening the development of water supply infrastructure to increase the yield of the water supply system, through dam constructions like Neckartal and feasibility studies to transfer water to water-scarce areas.
In addition, he noted the government has prepared a project proposal for floodwater harvesting that is ready for implementation once financial resources are secured.
Last year, the ministry of agriculture’s augmentation study indicated that the only water supply options available for the central regions are Kavango River abstraction and desalinated water from the coast. Misika said studies on these options are almost completed, as all the technical studies are completed, except for the environmental reports, which are expected to be concluded by end of July 2017.
He said the desalination is part of the comprehensive approach of the Technical Committee of Experts and Cabinet Committee on Water Supply Security to ensure water security for the coastal areas.
A rapid assessment study was carried out last year and preliminary work for a full study is underway. However, he clarified the two options are still being considered.
On the plans for the government to buy Areva desalination plant, which is being offered at a price of N$3 billion, Misika said that option is being investigated, but the government has no concrete response at this stage.
Last year, the government also planned to immediately start water supply into Olushandja Dam, rehabilitate Etaka and pump water to Uuvudhiya, while production boreholes will be developed at Oshandi in Ohangwena Region.
When asked how far these plans are in being realized, Misika said water supply into Olushandja has always been pumped from the Kunene River.
“That is why it does not dry up despite the high evaporation rate in that area. The rehabilitation of the Etaka canal is still being investigated. The ministry through its directorate of water supply and sanitation coordination is busy with a study on how the Etaka canal can be rehabilitated,” he disclosed.
Moreover, he noted the boreholes in Oshandi will be developed with the installation of a de-floridization plant due to the high level of fluoride in the water. He said as soon as such plant is acquired, the work will commence.
Critics have accused the government of waiting for critical times before it acts in terms of water shortage.
“This is not true, the government has consistently developed water supply infrastructure to serve as water sources when there is no rainfall and when the underground water tables are too low,” said Misika.