The Gariep Dam was originally named the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam after the first Prime Minister of the Republic of South Africa Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd on its commission in 1971. However after the end of apartheid the name was considered unsuitable, and the name was officially changed to Gariep Dam on 4 October 1996. Gariep is San for "Great water", and is the original name of the Orange River.
The dam is located on the Orange River between the Eastern Cape to the south and the Free State to the north and about 30 km north east of Colesberg. It is situated in a gorge at the entrance to the Ruigte Valley some 5 km east of Norvalspont.
The wall is 88 m high and has a crest length of 914 m and contains approximately 1.73 million m³ of concrete. The Gariep Dam is the largest storage reservoir in South Africa. In South African English, dam refers both to the structure and the lake it impounds. Gariep Dam has a total storage capacity of approximately 5,340,000 megalitres (5,340 hm³) and a surface area of more than 370 square kilometres (140 sq mi) when full. The hydro-electrical power station houses four 90 MW generators, giving a maximum output of 360 MW of electricity at a water flow rate of 800 m³/s.
Design type and contractors The dam itself is a concrete gravity-arch hybrid dam. This design was chosen as the gorge is too wide for a complete arch so flanking walls form gravity abutments to the central arch.
The dam was built by Dumez, a French construction company
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