The Komati River Basin is an important source of water for the Republic of South Africa, the Kingdom of Swaziland and the Republic of Mozambique. It contributes approximately 23% of inflow to the greater Incomati River catchment. In the 1980s the Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of Swaziland formulated the Joint Permanent Technical Commission (JTC). Their task was to make provision for ever increasing water demands and the result was a development plan for water resources in South Africa and Swaziland.
Two treaties concluded in 1992 between South Africa and Swaziland give effect to these development plans. The first of these treaties established the Joint Water Commission (JWC) to act as technical adviser to South Africa and Swaziland on all matters relating to the development and utilisation of water resources of common interest. The second Treaty deals with the implementation of Phase 1 of the development, sanctioning the establishment of the bi-national Komati Basin Water Authority (KOBWA) as the implementing agent, the sharing of resources and the apportionment of costs. These treaties were ratified in late 1992, followed by the appointment of the KOBWA Board and Chief Executive Officer.
Mozambique agreed to the implementation of Phase 1 of the Komati Project subject to the three Parties undertaking a joint study of the greater Incomati River Basin and adherence to interim agreements on cross-border flows at Ressano Garcia. This will be re-evaluated on completion of these joint studies. These studies seek to determine Mozambique's share from the Komati River and include investigating water resources and demands. The long term plan, which acknowledges Mozambique's right to an equitable share of this catchment yield, is being undertaken in phases. The plan is intended to cater for afforestation, instream flow requirements and consumption by primary users (domestic and livestock), as well as the irrigated agriculture, mining and industrial sectors.
Phase 1 is divided into two parts - the Driekoppies Dam in South Africa on the Lomati River (Phase 1a) and the Maguga Dam in Swaziland. A portion of the Driekoppies reservoir lies in Swaziland. The construction of the Driekoppies Dam commenced in July 1993. The benefits from Driekoppies Dam were seen to be downstream in South Africa, hence South Africa bore the total cost of Driekoppies Dam (R488 million).
The second part of Phase 1 is the Maguga Dam (Phase 1b), on the Komati River in Swaziland. In November 1993, Swaziland committed to commence construction of Maguga Dam before the end of 1996, as seen in the commencement of construction of the northern access road. The Maguga Dam was completed in mid-2001, with water being stored in late 2000. Since both South Africa and Swaziland benefit from the Maguga Dam project, the costs were therefore shared - approximately 40% to Swaziland and 60% to South Africa.
At present KOBWA is releasing water for Mozambique, in addition to the Swaziland and South African demand, to comply with the Pigg's Peak agreement. The flow is monitored and down stream users are motivated to ensure compliance with the treaty.