The Gariep Dam is part of the Orange River Project, the largest African irrigation project, which was started in 1966. Its purpose is the irrigation of 22,400 hectares of land for agricultural use and, at the same time, to provide drinking water for the cities of Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
Another part of the project is the 82 km long Orange Fish Tunnel, finished in 1975, the longest water-tunnel on earth. It leads water from the Gariep Dam to the Fish River valley.
Top: Gariep Dam and Orange River. Bottom: On the banks of the dam is a comfortable holiday resort with chalets, a motel and a caravan park.
Because of the general shortage of water on the South African interior plateau, water economy is of great importance. One remarkable water management project is the Gariep Dam (previously called H.F.Verwoerd Dam). It was built in 1972 and is the biggest dam in South Africa. It stores water from the Orange River in a 100 km long and 374 sq km wide dam.