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The Hendrik Verwoerd Dam is considered to be the most important single unit of the Orange River Project. This results from its geographical location from where water will be supplied southwards as well as north-westwards, and from its important functions in connection with river flow regulation, flood control, hydroelectric power development, recreation and nature conservation as well as its effect on the sediment load of the Orange River. The flow characteristics of the Orange River are discussed and the way in which Hendrik Verwoerd Dam, in conjunction with the other large dam included in the first stage of the Orange River Project, will control the river's runoff, is descriptionbed.
The geographical relationship is shown between the areas which will benefit from the project and regions of earliest contact between the different racial groups in South Africa. The history is related from the first attempts to irrigate and cultivate patches on the banks of the lower reaches of the Orange River until the completion of construction of Hendrik Verwoerd Dam.