Sonjica: SA needs billions for water projects

South Africa needs more than R70-billion to improve its bulk water infrastructure, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said on Tuesday.

Sonjica, speaking at the launch of the Maquassi Hills bulk water supply project in the North West, said five bulk water infrastructure projects had been completed in the past three years.

”The budget allocated may appear a lot, but it is a mere fraction of the total need for regional bulk infrastructure in South Africa, which is estimated to exceed more than R70-billion,” she said in a speech released to the media.

”Bulk infrastructure is a critical element of water services infrastructure and an integrated part of water services management.”

Sonjica said another 23 projects were in the construction phase, 11 were in tender and design phase and 47 feasibility studies had been undertaken.

A bulk water infrastructure is in its third year of implementation, but would have to be maintained ”for at least several more years” until most of the regional infrastructure bulk needs have been addressed.

Sonjica said her department was working ”through various programmes” to help provide of water and sanitation services, but that this was ”no easy task”.

”This is not an easy task given the many challenges of water scarcity, urban planning and our political background.

This R158-million Maquassi Hill project is one of the first large projects completed through the regional bulk infrastructure programme.

The project aims to bulk water supply to the Maquassi Hill municipality, includes 56km of large diameter pipes, a three mega litre reservoir, pump stations and two elevated tanks.

The Maquassi Hills municipality had until recently received its water from six boreholes as well as a bulk supply system where water was taken from the Vaal River and purified at Bulkfontein before being pumped by Sedibeng Water to Leeudoringstad.

Sonjica said water pumped from the Vaal River had reached its maximum capacity and severe restrictions have had to be implemented.

She said the increase in demand was driven by the rise in the number of services through the eradication of 3 949 bucket systems, the development of 4 445 new stands and the urbanisation of rural people seeking employment and a better lifestyle.

”This project will now address the water loss problem and bring much needed services to our people in our far-flung rural areas.” — Sapa

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