This accounts for 2% of total water usage nationally. However, Arthur Smith, Eskom’s spokesperson for agriculture, says it is a misconception that Eskom uses water earmarked for agriculture for power generation.
This followed a proposal by Nicol Jansen, Agri Northern Cape vice-president that the water used in the Northern Cape for power generation be recycled and allocated for agricultural purposes.
According to Smit, Eskom continues to improve its relative and reduce its absolute water consumption towards 2030, in line with its increased focus on water conservation and management.
Eskom is determined to support the drive to improve the management of South Africa’s scarce water resources through innovative and effective water conservation and management priorities, policies, and practices, he said.
“We reduced water usage by 6% since in 2012/2013 (from 334 million cubic metres down to 313 million cubic metres) and 2015/2016, which is well below the volume of water it is licensed by the DWS to use,” Smit said.
Eskom also generate power at its hydroelectric power schemes on the Orange River at Gariep Dam and Vanderkloof Dam. These power stations generate power during peak electricity demand that cannot immediately be met by the baseload stations, according to him.
Water flowing in the Orange River is stored in these dams to raise the water levels. The water is used to turn a generator turbine to produce electricity. The water re-joins the river downstream from the dam wall, allowing controlled access for irrigators downstream, which are determined by government.
Eskom continuously minimises water wastage and does not reduce water available further downstream.
Eskom does not consume water or require additional water to be allocated to its power stations, nor does it completely stop the flow of water downstream, Smit added.
“Beyond this, Eskom operates within the operating rules allowed by the Department of Water and Sanitation. In particular, we have not implemented any emergency generation and additional water releases through the turbines since October 2015,” Smit said.