Gariep Dam

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Gariep Dam
Gariep Dam
Gariep Dam is located in South Africa
Gariep Dam
Location of Gariep Dam in South Africa
Official nameGariep Dam
LocationBorder of Eastern Cape and Free State, South Africa
Coordinates30°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 began1965
Opening date1971
Owner(s)Department of Water Affairs
Dam and spillways
Type of damArch-gravity dam
ImpoundsOrange River
Height88 m (289 ft)
Length914 m (2,999 ft)
CreatesGariep Dam Reservoir
Total capacity5,340,000 megalitres (5,340 hm3)[1]
Surface area374 km2 (144 sq mi)
Power Station
Turbines4 x 90 MW (120,000 hp)
Installed capacity360 MW (480,000 hp) (max)
Annual generation889 GWh (3,200 TJ)[2]

Gariep Dam located 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, on its commission in 1971, was originally named the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam after Hendrik Verwoerd, the Prime Minister before and after 31 May 1961, when the country changed from the Union of South Africa to the Republic of South Africa. 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 kilometres (30 mi) north-east of Colesberg and 208 kilometres (129 mi) south of Bloemfontein. It is in a gorge at the entrance to the Ruigte Valley some 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of Norvalspont. The dam crest is some 1300m (4250ft) above sea level.


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 water volume it retains. 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.

Gariep Dam Bridge[edit]

Gariep Dam bridge
Coordinates 30°37′22″S 25°30′23″E / 30.6228°S 25.5064°E / -30.6228; 25.5064Coordinates: 30°37′22″S 25°30′23″E / 30.6228°S 25.5064°E / -30.6228; 25.5064
Carries14300 tons

Rivers and spruits flowing into the dam[edit]

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]


  1. ^ "State of Dams in Provinces as on 20080901". Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
  2. ^ Eskom website
  3. ^ "Dictionary of Southern African Place Names (Public Domain)". Human Science Research Council. p. 171.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Dept of Water Affairs website

External links[edit]