Rand Water is the largest bulk water utility in Africa and is one of the largest in the world, providing bulk potable water to more than 11 million people in Gauteng, parts of Mpumalanga, the Free State and North West – an area that stretches over 18 000 km2.
Rand Water draws water from its catchments (mentioned below) and purifies it for human consumption. The water is then supplied / sold to Municipalities, mines and industries.
The municipalities, e.g. Johannesburg Water, in turn supply the water, at a cost, to the consumers or individual households.
Since 1974, the Tugela-Vaal scheme has fed water into the Vaal River to supplement its supply. This is done by inter-basin transfer of water from the Tugela River in KwaZulu-Natal. This means that water is released into the Vaal River system from the Sterkfontein Dam via the Nuwejaar Spruit and the Wilge River.
The availability of water from the Tugela-Vaal system made it possible for Rand Water to maintain restricted,but adequate, water supplies to consumers during major droughts – from 1983 to 1987 and in 1995.
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) also transfers water to the Vaal Dam. This entire project comprises six dams and three pumping stations. It diverts the flow of the Orange River via tunnels through the Maluti Mountains, channelling the water to the Eastern Free State, and then on to the Vaal Dam.
The first phase of the LHWP was completed in 1998 and is designed to meet the demand for water in Gauteng up to the year 2020.
One of Rand Water’s strategic objectives is to expand Bulk Sanitation services to municipalities. The blue green drop strategy by the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs will force municipalities to comply to DWEA`s effluent standards. This therefore means that Rand Water should be ready to take up the effluent challenges faced by municipalities.