Gariep Dam

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For the town, see Gariep Dam (town).
Gariep Dam
Gariep Dam
Gariep Dam is located in South Africa
Gariep Dam
Location of Gariep Dam
Official name Gariep Dam
Location Border of Eastern Cape and Free State, South Africa
Coordinates 30°37′25.43″S 25°30′23.81″E / 30.6237306°S 25.5066139°E / -30.6237306; 25.5066139Coordinates: 30°37′25.43″S 25°30′23.81″E / 30.6237306°S 25.5066139°E / -30.6237306; 25.5066139
Construction began 1965
Opening date 1971
Owner(s) Department of Water Affairs
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Arch-gravity dam
Impounds Orange River
Height 88 m
Length 914 m
Creates Gariep Dam Reservoir
Total capacity 5,340,000 megalitres (5,340 hm3)[1]
Surface area 374 km2
Power station
Operator(s) Eskom
Turbines 4
Installed capacity 90 MW each
Annual generation 889 GWh[2]

Gariep Dam is a dam in South Africa, near the town of Norvalspont, bordering the Free State and Eastern Cape provinces. Its primary purpose is for irrigation, domestic and industrial use as well as for power generation.


The Gariep Dam was originally named the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam after the first prime minister of the Republic of South Africa Hendrik Verwoerd on its commission in 1971. However, after the end of apartheid, the Verwoerd name was considered unsuitable. The name was officially changed to Gariep Dam on 4 October 1996. Gariep is Khoekhoe for "river", the original name of the Orange River.[3]


The dam is on the Orange River about 48 km north-east of Colesberg and 208 km south of Bloemfontein. It is in a gorge at the entrance to the Ruigte Valley some 5 km east of Norvalspont.


Gariep Dam bridge
Carries 14300 tons
Width Doubleway
Toll None

The wall is 88 m high and has a crest length of 914 m and contains approximately 1.73 million m³ of concrete. The Gariep Dam is the largest storage reservoir in South Africa. In South African English, 'dam' refers both to the structure and the lake it impounds. Gariep Dam has a total storage capacity of approximately 5,340,000 megalitres (5,340 hm3) and a surface area of more than 370 square kilometres (140 sq mi) when full. The hydro-electrical power station houses four 90 MW generators, giving a maximum output of 360 MW of electricity at a water flow rate of 800 m³/s.

Design type and contractors[edit]

The structure is a concrete gravity-arch hybrid dam. This design was chosen as the gorge is too wide for a complete arch so flanking walls form gravity abutments to the central arch.

It was built by Dumez, a French construction company.

Rivers and spruits flowing into the dam[4][edit]

  • Orange River
  • Caledon River
  • Brakspruit
  • Broekspruit
  • Oudagspruit
  • Palmietspruit
  • Slykspruit

Orange-Fish River Project[edit]

At Oviston, on the south bank of the reservoir, is the inlet of the Orange-Fish River Tunnel, allowing water to be diverted to the Great Fish River and most of the Eastern Cape's western parts.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "State of Dams in Provinces as on 20080901". Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  2. ^ Eskom website
  3. ^ "Dictionary of Southern African Place Names (Public Domain)". Human Science Research Council. p. 171. 
  4. ^ Dept of Water Affairs website