Ministry denies water problems at Neckartal Dam
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has denied claims of water challenges facing the N$2.8 billion Neckartal dam in the south which is under construction.
In an e-mail response to questions, ministry spokesperson Margaret Kalo said this week that allegations that construction of the Neckartal dam will be delayed because of water problems were not true.
After long delays due to court challenges, the tender for the construction of the Neckartal dam and irrigation scheme was finally awarded to Italian firm Salini SpA last year.
Construction of phase one of the project, which includes construction of the dam wall has already started. Under phase one, total water demand is expected to be less than 1 million cubic metres and the Fish River is the planned primary source of water.
However, earlier this month Salini’s project manager Gatti Stefano told journalists that the project was experiencing water challenges that could impact negatively on the construction of the dam.
“Water is our biggest challenge. There is no underground water.
We have drilled four boreholes about 150 metres deep, but we did not get water,” Stefano was reported as saying, but the agriculture ministry denied any suggestions of water challenges.
“When seasonal flow (including sub surface flow) in the river is insufficient to meet demand, water will be released from the Hardap Dam to augment it.
The Hardap dam is currently (10/02/2014) holding 113 million cubic metres of water and considering that the phase 1 water demand will be drawn down over a three year period, it is clear that supply of water for construction is not a problem,” Kalo said.
Without elaborating, Kalo said other contingency plans are available in case of water problems.
She said the only problem facing the project is not the supply of water, but the water that is in the river which makes construction difficult.
“This [water in the river] creates foundation construction difficulties through the continuous ingress of water into river bed excavations.
It is a common dam construction issue and is a little like trying to construct a house’s foundation in a swamp.”
Kalo said if the contractor finds an alternative supply of water, no water will be purposely fed into the river thereby simplifying initial dam construction.
Peak construction water demand for the construction of the Neckartal dam is expected to be around 1,000 cubic metres per day. According to ministry information, this peak is expected to be maintained over a period of 15 months.
At the moment Salini is constructing workers housing facilities and other site facilities as well as sourcing labour and small business service providers.