Vaal Triangle History


1889 - 1902


Klip Power Station

William Stow


Vaal Dam

Vereeniging Estates

1939 - 1945

Peace Negotiations




In September 1913, the Rand Water Board decided to proceed with a scheme to impound water from the Vaal River, purify it and pump it to Johannesburg. This became known as the Rand Water Board Supplementary Water Supply Act, 1914. The scheme involved the construction of a Barrage, 1 400 feet in length, at the Lindeque’s Drift site, 25 miles downstream from Vereeniging and provision for a river intake station and a purification and pumping station at Vereeniging. Additional pumping facilities were required to pump the water to Johannesburg as this involved pumping a distance of 35 miles and pumping heads of almost 2000 feet, an engineering feat unheard of in those days.

Surprisingly enough, the first proposals to supply the gold mines with water from the Vaal River had been put forward by the Vereeniging Estates company in the late 1890’s but these plans were shelved when the Anglo-Boer War began.


The first damming of the Vaal River was at Vereeniging in 1905 when a weir - known as Leslie’s weir – was constructed. The weir was only five feet above the normal low water level, but it dammed back the Vaal for a distance of eight miles. Although the water was to be used for irrigation and further development of the plantations and farmlands around Maccauvlei, the weir had a great impact on the future of Vereeniging as the continuous supply of water convinced the Victoria Falls and Transvaal Power Company to erect a power station on the north bank of the Vaal River in 1912 and was probably instrumental in the decisions of the Rand Water Board in proceeding with it’s Barrage scheme.

The First World War (1914 – 1918) held back the proposals and it was only after the war that the scheme was put into operation. Water consumption was increasing rapidly and by 1920 had reached over 13 million gallons. It was with great pride throughout the whole of South Africa that in July 1923, the Barrage was completed and one of the 36 sluice gates was opened. At the same time, the first of two 5 million gallons per day (22.7 Ml/d) treatment systems at the Vereeniging purification and pumping station was also put into operation. The station comprised sedimentation tanks, filters, clear water reservoirs, pumping plant and pipelines.


During the 1914 – 1918 war, the Vaal River rose to flood level in 1917, flooding the town and causing considerable damage. In October 1918, the world-wide Spanish Influenza epidemic struck Vereeniging. During this time, the water supply to the townspeople from the boreholes (which was still unpurified) was often contaminated with mud from the swollen rivers. Even with the building of the Vereeniging purification and pumping station, it was only in 1927 that the residents of Vereeniging were supplied with purified water from the Vereeniging works.


The Rand Water Board reached the limits of its abstraction rights in the early 1930’s at the same time as the government was planning to build a dam at Christiana to provide water for the Vaalhartz irrigation scheme. After much debate, it was decided to build a dam, subsequenrly named the Vaal Dam, at the confluence of the Wilge and Vaal Rivers about 11 miles upstream of the existing storage area.

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