SIPs to meet SA’s water needs

The Gariep Dam (Madelene Cronje)

The Gariep Dam (Madelene Cronje)

As the government marked water week this year it highlighted that the provision of water has been a key priority since the advent of democracy.

Its interventions as part of the greater national Infrastructure Development Plan touch on water supply and management in several areas of the 18 planned strategic integration projects (SIPs) co-ordinated under the National Planning Commission and the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Commission (PICC).

These include:

SIP 1: Unlocking the northern mineral belt with Waterberg as the catalyst The construction and installation of water pipelines as the focus According to the department of water affairs (DWA), the mining sector uses around 2.5% of the national water supplies to sustain a range of activities including mineral processing, dust suppression and waste transportation.

In unlocking the northern mineral belt, one of the key water projects entails building a 70km pipeline this year to supply water from a reservoir in the north to local coal mines. This includes the De Hoop Dam and pipeline, officially opened this month.

SIP 3: South-Eastern node and corridor development Including a new dam at Mzimvubu with associated irrigation systems The Mzimvubu Water Project is one of the water-related SIPs that is intended to stimulate economic development and social upliftment in the Eastern Cape. The dam is intended to supply new water capacity for irrigation development and to help meet domestic and industrial water requirements in the Mzimvubu River catchment area, as well as to potentially support hydropower projects.

The main stem has four major tributaries; the Tsitsa, Tina, Kinira and Mzintlava rivers, all of which originate in the Drakensberg Mountains. It is proposed that the Umzimvubu dam and its associated irrigation, bulk and reticulation be developed to enhance agricultural output.

SIP 4: Unlocking the economic opportunities in North West province Acceleration of investments in bulk water, water treatment and transmission infrastructure North West relies heavily on ground water resources to meet its needs.

Sources of pollution of groundwater resources have been identified as mining industrial activities, agriculture, as well domestic use. SIP 4 therefore aims to accelerate investments in roads, rail, bulk water, water treatment and transmission infrastructure.

The identified projects include: The Setumo and Mahikeng bulk water supply Taung Dam bulk water Schweitzer Reineke scheme Vaalharts irrigation scheme The acceleration of these projects is expected to result in further development of mining, agricultural activities and tourism opportunities and to open up beneficiation opportunities in North West.

SIP 6: Integrated municipal infrastructure project Develop national capacity to assist the 23 least resourced districts impacting 19 million people, and to address maintenance backlogs and upgrades required in water and sanitation bulk infrastructure SIP 6 aims to raise the quality of life in the least resourced municipalities, through integrated action to address the maintenance backlogs and upgrades required in water, electricity and sanitation bulk infrastructure in the 23 least resourced district municipalities.

The key impact is to reverse the degradation of water quality in consumption in these towns as well as downstream communities. Increases in effluent quality to downstream communities will have huge benefits in reducing the disease burdens and resultant health expenditure of under serviced communities.

The upgrades will also make provision for areas where significant growth in population has not been addressed by expanded facilities with resulting declines in water quality and quantity available to communities.

SIP 11: Agri-logistics and rural infrastructure Improve investment in agricultural and rural infrastructure that supports expansion of production and employment, irrigation schemes to poor areas South Africa’s history of separate development has resulted in many rural areas not having access to basic water supply services.

The purpose of SIP 11 is to enable agro-logistics and rural infrastructure investments that would unlock the potential of rural areas to create jobs. This SIP will be implemented in co-ordination with a number of SIPs focused on rural areas.

Key initiatives that are supported by this SIP are the expansion of facilities for storage (silos, fresh-produce facilities, packing houses); transport links to main networks (rural roads, branch train-line, ports); fencing of farms; irrigation schemes to poor areas; aquaculture incubation schemes; and rural tourism infrastructure.

SIP 17: Regional integration for African co-operation and development

The strengthening of regional socio-economic development through infrastructure development remains on government’s agenda. SIP 17 will focus on the participation of mutually beneficial infrastructure projects to unlock long term socio-economic benefits by partnering with fast growing African economies with projected growth ranging between 3% and 10%.

The bulk water project that has been identified within this SIP is the construction of Polihali Dam and related infrastructure in Lesotho (an increase from 15m3 to 40m3 per second).

SIP 18: Water and sanitation infrastructure

The South African government has launched one of the country’s major new infrastructure projects, a wide ranging 10-year programme to address water supply and sanitation backlogs affecting under-serviced households. These projects will address the estimated backlog of adequate water to 1.4-million households and that of basic sanitation to 2.1-million households.

Throughout the next 10 years, SIP 18 initiatives are expected to fast-track the issuing of water licences, expand the water system capacity, speed up build programmes, address backlog projects and rehabilitate and upgrade existing water and sanitation infrastructure across the country. SIP 18 will also focus on priority small towns and rural areas where water service delivery is a problem, and thus is expected to create jobs while improving water service delivery countrywide and extending water supply to un-serviced or under-serviced areas.

The recent “Green Drop” report indicates that of 914 water supply systems assessed, 41% scored less than 50%. The Green Drop regulation programme identifies and develops the core competencies required to improve the level of wastewater management in South Africa.

As a water scarce country, the PICC supports water demand measures, including advanced pressure management projects, water leak management and water demand awareness measures.

The projects that have been earmarked under this SIP are for the provision of new infrastructure, rehabilitation and upgrade of existing infrastructure which includes:

• Development of water resources

• Potable water supply

• Non-potable water distribution

• Collection of water-borne sewage

• Waste water treatment

• On-site sanitation

There are also projects that have been identified to improve the management of water infrastructure, including capacity building of rural municipalities and focused asset management programmes Water and sanitation are therefore integral aspects of ensuring environmental sustainability, as per the millennium development goal as well as to achieve the objectives of the PICC.

Mathapelo Malao is KPMG’s senior manager for infrastructure and major projects.

This article has been made possible by the Mail & Guardian's advertisers. Content has been signed off by KPMG and their business partners.