2. During the initial excavation, it was discovered that the bedrock was seismically unstable so the clever engineers incorporated a moveable joint in the dam’s base to allow it to flex. How smart is that?
3. It took six years and 2.32 million cubic metres of concrete to build. In fact, a truckload of cement and fly ash, transported by road from Ficksburg, was delivered every 40 minutes during the construction phase.
4. Katse, the highest dam in Africa, is also one of the world’s ten largest concrete arch dams in terms of volume, with a capacity of nearly 2 billion cubic metres and a surface area of 38.5 square kilometres.
6. Katse dam is the transfer reservoir for the whole Lesotho Highlands Water Project. All the water captured by the different structures (like Mohale Dam, which is connected to Katse by a 32km-long tunnel) flow from it to South Africa via Clarens in the Free State.
7. The Katse dam provides 72 megawatts of electricity for Lesotho.
8. Lesotho earns some R25 million in export revenue every month for supplying South Africa with water.
10. The flip-side is that once-remote mountain villages were changed dramatically. Some 20 000 people lost their homes, farmland or communal grazing grounds (although similar-sized new homes were provided elsewhere). But the effects are still being felt today, with some communities that used to share social ties now cut off from each other by the reservoir.
11. Phase 2 is set to begin near Mokhotlong in 2014 and will take five to six years before it finally joins with Katse dam via a tunnel.
12. Fish in the dam include trout and indigenous yellow fish. There are some nursery projects for the fish (you can see one not far from the Katse Lodge) and it’s hoped to start exporting soon.
Need to know
Tours start from the visitor centre; with its bright blue roof, you can’t miss it. Tours cost R10 per person and take about an hour, starting at 9am or 2pm on weekdays and 11am on weekends.
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