Environmental Profile


Xhariep topography is generally low lying and undulating slopes with high altitude areas along the mountainous pockets in the southern part of the district. It is mainly covered by Eastern grasslands and dry Karoo savannas. In general, altitudes vary from 2060m above sea level at Bakenkop in the north-eastern quadrant to 1100 m above sea level in the western quadrant of the study area.

Ground Water

Despite the abundance of water resources at the Gariep Dam and the Orange River, various towns in the Xhariep district rely on ground water for their primary water supply. These towns include Petrusburg, Trompsburg, Fauresmith and Jagersfontein. Other towns use ground water as a supplementary and/or emergency source of water supply. These towns include Jacobsdal, Koffiefontein, Phillipolis, Springfontein, Edenburg, Reddersburg and Smithfield.

Surface Water

Two main drainage systems occur in the greater district area. The primary drainage system is the Orange River which drains 67 % of the area. The secondary drainage region is the Vaal River represented by the north-west flowing Modder and Riet Rivers which drain the remaining 33 % of the area. The major dams are the Gariep Dam, Bethulie Dam and Smithfield Dam. Other dams include the Vander kloof Dam, Kalkfontein Dam, Wuras Dam, Wolwas Dam and the Matungo Dam. Rivers include the Orange, Riet, Caledon and Tussen-die-Riviere. The Orange River, a 2 000 km long river, forms a natural border between Xhariep and the Cape. The country’s only two hydro-electric power stations are situated on the Orange River, at the Xhariep and Vanderkloof dams.