Flow patterns and chemical loads in the middle Olifants River, Limpopo River System, South Africa





Rio Elefantes, Flag Boshielo Dam, high flow dilution, electrical conductivity, sulphate, flow-duration curves, load-duration curves


Historical data (July 1998 – June 2018) for the middle Olifants River, Limpopo River system, were compiled to evaluate the dynamics of selected water physico-chemical parameters with river discharge. The concentration of most water quality parameters increased over time. However, these concentrations are rapidly decreased, or reset, by the rapid filling, or spilling, of Loskop and/or Flag Boshielo Dams during a high-flow event. The flow-duration curves for stations below impoundments in the middle catchment on the Olifants River are typical of highly regulated rivers, although releases from Flag Boshielo Dam were more consistent through the 20 years. No outflow from Loskop Dam was recorded for 5.4% of the 20 years. The load-duration curves for gauging weirs on the Olifants and Elands rivers immediately upstream of Flag Boshielo Dam showed that the ‘tolerable’ concentrations were exceeded for total dissolved solids at the 60th and 20th percentiles of the flow, respectively. In addition, records for electrical conductivity, sodium, chloride, and alkalinity frequently exceeded the ‘tolerable’ concentrations at these sites. The results for Loskop and Flag Boshielo dams are generally lower than the tolerable concentrations for the parameters evaluated. Management of the flow regulation of the Olifants River should be aimed at meeting the water quality stipulations for all users in the agricultural, domestic, industrial, and recreational sectors.


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How to Cite

SM Marr, DCH Retief, JR Sara, & WJ Luus-Powell. (2022). Flow patterns and chemical loads in the middle Olifants River, Limpopo River System, South Africa. Water SA, 48(4 October). https://doi.org/10.17159/wsa/2022.v48.i4.3960



Research paper