The Department of Water and Sanitation in the Northern Cape will send a team of water and environmental experts to various points of the Orange River System to monitor the ecological condition of the Lower Orange River System.The Orange River system is highly regulated upstream by more than 29 dams including weirs, with major dams such as the Katse Dam in Lesotho (which is the highest dam in Africa at 185m high), the Gariep Dam in the Free State Province (at 88m high) and the Vanderkloof Dam in Northern Cape. Apart from being built for flood control and electricity generation, these dams are used to release water downstream during the dry season for ecological and irrigation needs of which the Lower Orange River System in the Northern Cape is a beneficiary. The River Ecostatus Monitoring Progamme (REMP) team will be sampling and monitoring the ecological condition of the Orange River System and water pollution and its impacts on the fauna and flora (animal and plant life in the water). The team will be collecting data necessary to assess the quantity and quality of water in the river system and how it affects the condition of aquatic ecosystems (animal and plant life in the water).
The River Health Programme (RHP), which was initiated in 1996 just prior to the publishing of the National Water Act of 1998, has since been changed to the River Ecostatus Monitoring Programme to align with the National Water Act.Macro-invertebrate monitoring using the South African Scoring System version 5 (SASS5). The published method complies with International Standards Organization (ISO). An official Quality Control and Quality Assurance process is in place to ensure accurate and reliable results. This is part of efforts by the Department of Water and Sanitation to ensure that the quality of water is realized for the good health of the citizenry and sustained economic development as envisaged in the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan.