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Proposed Enlargement of Altona Dam And Construction of Associated Infrastructure, Klipheuwel

PROPOSED ENLARGEMENT OF ALTONA DAM AND CONSTRUCTION OF ASSOCIATED INFRASTRUCTURE, KLIPHEUWEL, WESTERN CAPE PROVINCE: NOTIFICATION OF CHANGE IN EIA PROCESS AND AVAILABILITY OF DRAFT BASIC ASSESSMENT REPORT (DBAR) FOR PUBLIC REVIEW

BASIC ASSESSMENT PROCESS: DEA&DP Ref No.: 16/3/3/1/A5/88/2047/20

Heritage Western Cape Ref No.: 17111307WD1116E

J.A. Loubser (Pty) Ltd (“the applicant”) proposes to increase water storage and irrigation areas on Altona Farm which is located 10 km west of Klipheuwel in the Western Cape Province. It is proposed to enlarge an existing dam of 45 500 m3 within a minor unnamed tributary of the Diep River, which is located adjacent to the Diep River itself. The proposed dam (“Altona Dam”) would be an in-stream earth fill (raised) embankment dam with a capacity of 500 000 m3. The reason for enlarging the Altona Dam is to enable irrigation of 98 ha of existing agricultural land which is currently utilized for dry-land agriculture and livestock grazing. The dam would provide surety of water supply which would allow the applicant to undertake the irrigation of crops on a rotation system.

The proposed project, including associated infrastructure, includes the following:

  • an enlarged earth fill embankment dam of 500 000 m3 storage capacity with a 10.5 m high embankment and pump station;
  • a new 400 mm diameter bulk pipeline (1.18 km) which would pump water from the Diep River to the raised dam (with stream and road crossings (R304));
  • two new 200 mm irrigation pipelines (0.56 km and 1.61 km). The latter pipeline would cross one stream and one road (R304); and
  • 98 ha of two irrigation pivot areas on existing dryland agricultural fields (i.e. not on virgin land).

This project originally involved the proposed construction of a new dam which triggered Listed Activity 16 of GN No. R325 (Listing Notice 2) of the EIA Regulations, 2014, as amended. Hence, a Scoping and EIA Process was initiated in September 2018.

During this Pre-Application Phase, the freshwater ecologist identified a three-hectare valley bottom wetland of moderately modified ecological condition located within the proposed new dam basin site. A wetland offset area was proposed by the freshwater ecologist as a mitigation measure for the loss of this wetland area.

This finding, and also as a result of comments received during the public review period of the Pre-Application Scoping Report resulted in a more detailed investigation of Alternatives for the proposed dam on Altona Farm.

As a result of the outcome of the additional investigations, the new preferred alternative now involves the raising and enlarging of an existing dam on Altona Farm, which is located on a small tributary of the Diep River (to the east of the previously proposed new dam). This site is now the preferred option for a dam at Altona Farm. This proposed activity has triggered Listed Activities for a Basic Assessment Process only. At a process meeting held with the DEA&DP on the 29th of November 2019, permission was given to conclude the process by way of a Basic Assessment Process rather than a full Scoping and EIA Process.

Holland & Associates Environmental Consultants has been appointed by J.A. Loubser (Pty) Ltd to undertake the requisite Environmental Impact Assessment process for the proposed project (in this case, a Basic Assessment Reporting (BAR) process) in accordance with the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) (No. 107 of 1998), as amended, EIA Regulations (2014).

The Draft Basic Assessment Report and standalone Executive Summary have been made available to Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs) for review for a 30 day comment period, and is downloadable via the link below. I&APs have 30 days, i.e. 12 November 2020 – 14 December 2020 to submit comments on the proposed project and Draft Basic Assessment Report. Once the comment period closes, comments received will be incorporated into a Comments and Response Report CRR(2) and will be included in the final BAR that will be submitted to DEA&DP for decision making.

Should you have any comments, issues or concerns regarding the proposed project or the findings of the Draft Basic Assessment Report, please provide your comments in writing to Ross Holland of Holland & Associates Environmental Consultants, by email, fax or post (Fax: 086 653 1765, email: ross@hollandandassociates.net or post: PO Box 31108, Tokai, 7966), on or before 14 December 2020.