Dam dispute looms

Dam dispute looms

THE NamWater dam supplying water to 3 500 people in Kalkfeld is all but empty and fingers are being pointed at a farmer who has built two dams upstream from the dam.

While Kalkfeld residents have to make do with a total of 1 800 cubic metres each a month – the equivalent of 2 056 cups of water a month – farmer Georg Engelhard is sitting pretty. “We haven’t had water inflow (into the NamWater dam) for about three years now,” NamWater’s Brandberg Area Office Manager, Naude Slabbert, said at the weekend.”There are two dams upstream in the western direction which we suspect are hindering the natural flow of water into the catchment of our dam,” said Slabbert.Slabbert added: “We also think these dams are illegal because the farmer doesn’t have permits for them”.Deputy Director of Hydrology at the Ministry of Agriculture Water Affairs and Rural Development, Guido van Langenhove, who is responsible for issuing and managing dam permits, was also not aware of the existence of permits for the two dams.Farmers are required by law to apply for a permit at the Directorate of Water Affairs for all dams that exceed a capacity of 20 000 cubic metres.Van Langenhove estimated the bigger of the two dams to contain between 35 000 and 40 000 cubic metres of water.But farmer and owner of the dams, Georg Engelhard, said: “I never claimed to have permits for the dams.But the big dam was built by my grandfather in the 1940s, so that can’t be illegal”.According to him: “The dam that is further downstream is actually a flood restriction dam”.He added: “With that dam, we are actually doing Kalkfeld a favour”.”Instead of accusing me of taking the water, these people (NamWater) should actually be paying me for building the dam,” said Engelhard.In the meantime NamWater is looking at alternative ways of supplying water to Kalkfeld.”The problem is that since we are working with a poor community, we have to look at a financially viable option,” said an official at the Ministry’s Division of Water Affairs.”We haven’t had water inflow (into the NamWater dam) for about three years now,” NamWater’s Brandberg Area Office Manager, Naude Slabbert, said at the weekend. “There are two dams upstream in the western direction which we suspect are hindering the natural flow of water into the catchment of our dam,” said Slabbert. Slabbert added: “We also think these dams are illegal because the farmer doesn’t have permits for them”. Deputy Director of Hydrology at the Ministry of Agriculture Water Affairs and Rural Development, Guido van Langenhove, who is responsible for issuing and managing dam permits, was also not aware of the existence of permits for the two dams. Farmers are required by law to apply for a permit at the Directorate of Water Affairs for all dams that exceed a capacity of 20 000 cubic metres. Van Langenhove estimated the bigger of the two dams to contain between 35 000 and 40 000 cubic metres of water. But farmer and owner of the dams, Georg Engelhard, said: “I never claimed to have permits for the dams. But the big dam was built by my grandfather in the 1940s, so that can’t be illegal”. According to him: “The dam that is further downstream is actually a flood restriction dam”. He added: “With that dam, we are actually doing Kalkfeld a favour”. “Instead of accusing me of taking the water, these people (NamWater) should actually be paying me for building the dam,” said Engelhard. In the meantime NamWater is looking at alternative ways of supplying water to Kalkfeld. “The problem is that since we are working with a poor community, we have to look at a financially viable option,” said an official at the Ministry’s Division of Water Affairs.

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