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Enkangala
Drakensberg

Facts
In Numbers

Situated in Mpumalanga, the Enkangala Drakensberg water source area supplies water to parts of Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Northern Cape. The Drakensberg Mountains form the watershed between rivers flowing to the Indian Ocean (via the Thukela) or to the Atlantic Ocean (via the Vaal and Orange).

Size: 862 234 ha

Main Rivers

The Vaal, Thukela, Pongola, Assegaai and Wilge rivers flow from the Enkangala Drakensberg. It feeds a number of freeflowing rivers including Ntombe, Hlelo and Upper Vaal.

Did You Know?

  • This water source area supplies water to Gauteng, the economic hub of South Africa. It is also important for the agricultural sector in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State.
  • About 45% of this water source area overlaps with coal fields in Ermelo, Vryheid, Highveld and Utrecht. Coal mining is thus a significant threat to its healthy functioning.
  • The Enkangala Drakensberg water source area supplies water to eMbalenhle, Standerton, Delmas, Volksrust, and Ermelo, Newcastle, Richard’s Bay, Vryheid, Dundee, eSikhawini and Kimberley.

Threats

Land Use (in %)

  • Mining 0.02%
  • Wetlands 2.6%
  • Urban 1.52%
  • Cultivation (irrigated) 0.54%
  • Waterbodies 0.34%
  • Plantation/Woodlot 12.18%
  • Cultivation (dryland) 9.57%
  • Natural 73.24%

1% Protected Areas

Only 1% of this water source is formally protected. The Paardeplaats Nature Reserve, Pongola Bush Nature Reserve and Mabola Protected Environment are located within the Enkangala Drakensberg water source area. A number of Ramsar Sites (Kosi Bay, Lake Sibaya and iSimangaliso) are downstream the Enkangala Drakensberg.

Threat Status

Approximately 73% of the Enkangala Drakensberg is in natural condition. Nevertheless, 45% of this water source area overlaps with coal fields.

MITIGATING IMPACTS OF COAL MINING IN WATER SOURCE AREAS

Coal mining is the most significant threat to the Enkangala Drakensberg. Currently only 1% of the water source area is formally protected whereas 45% of it coincides with coal fields. Which legal mechanism may restrict or prohibit the granting of rights for mining and prospecting in specified geographical locations for a specified period of time?

Interactive Map

South Africa has 22 water source areas spread across five provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo). The total size of our water source areas is 12.32 million hectares. A number of these areas extend and are shared with Lesotho and Swaziland; approximately 1.91 million hectares in Lesotho and 0.93 million hectares in Swaziland.

The total volume of water supplied by these areas per year is approximately 2 457 million cubic metres. The greatest volume of recharge is generated by the Southern Drakensberg, followed by the Eastern Cape Drakensberg and the Boland Mountains.