Water

Sunday 1st January, 2012

Water

Gauteng is looking for creative solutions to water-supply issues.

South Africa is a water-stressed country and Gauteng, as the province with the highest concentration of industry and a long legacy of mining, has to look for creative solutions to issues of water supply and water quality.

The National Department of Water Affairs (DWA) has formed a partnership with the Water Resources Group (WRG) to be known as the South Africa Strategic Water Partners Network. The network will provide guidance on a wide range of strategic water issues. WRG is an international consortium of private and public bodies (led by the chairman of Nestlé) that is supported by the World Economic Forum and the International Finance Corporation.

The City of Johannesburg’s population is expected to rise to about four million by 2015, and new sources of water will have to be found.

The Water Resource Commission has warned that Gauteng might run out of water by 2016 if proper policies are not put in place to better conserve and recycle the resource. About 88% of the province’s water is imported, mostly from the Vaal River, and is supplemented by complex transfers from the Thukela River and the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

This water is treated at Vereeniging and then pumped uphill to Johannesburg. The Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) is the state body that is responsible for the funding and construction of bulk-water infrastructure across the country. The Lesotho Highlands Project is one of the biggest and most complex.

The Vaal basin receives water from no fewer than seven inter-basin transfer schemes. The second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project is scheduled to start delivering water in 2019, but if Gauteng is to have a stable supply of water in the years leading up to that date, alternative solutions have to be developed.

Aveng Water, which has its headquarters in Sandton in Johannesburg, has shown that even acidic water that comes from mines can be treated so that it becomes potable. A plant in Mpumalanga treats 25 000 cubic metres of water per day for BHP Billiton and Anglo American at their thermal coal plant. The water serves the mine and nearby town of eMalahleni.

The quality of water supplied by water authorities and municipalities has been under the spotlight for several years. The Blue Drop Certification Programme run by the DWA provides a clear picture of the status of water delivery, and in 2012, Gauteng’s municipalities and water utilities excelled.

Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality scored a near-perfect 98.95%, and won the national award overall for municipal performance, narrowly beating the 2011 winner, the City of Johannesburg. Tshwane Central and South were the national winners in the system category, with a Blue Drop score of 99.2%.

An important component in water management is the reduction of waste and maintenance of pipes. Oil and energy company Sasol is partnering with the Emfuleni Municipality in an effort to reduce water use by 5% by 2014, targeting leaking pipes and bad distribution systems in Sebokeng and Evaton.

The country’s water problems are attracting the attention of foreign companies. Nalco Africa was formed in 2010 by the US firm Nalco and local company Protea Chemicals. Other international companies in South Africa include the Adel Wiggins Group and the Hach Corporation.

Nalco has a product called 3D TRASAR® Cooling Water Technology, which the company says has saved more than 596 million cubic metres of water for industries across the world since 2004.

In 2009, Johannesburg Water announced an annual spending programme of R1-billion every year for five years, to improve and upgrade its infrastructure. The utility’s Cydna Laboratory tests 1.3 million cubic metres of tap water every day. Johannesburg Water supplies water to more than three million people on a daily basis, and treats about 930 000 cubic metres of waste at six treatment works.

The other major supplier of water in the region is Rand Water, which supplies nearly one billion megalitres to municipalities, industries and mining companies. The company’s 2011 annual report recorded infrastructure spending of more than R1-billion, 89% of all capital expenditure. Wastewater treatment is another vital component in the water equation. The Aurecon Group has been engaged by the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality to expand the capacity of the Sunderland Ridge Wastewater Treatment Works, which is near one of the fastest growth points in the province, Centurion and Midrand. The expanded capacity (up to 95 million litres per day) is expected to meet demand until 2015.

Link to article: http://www.gautengcompanies.co.za/pls/cms/ti_secout.secout_prov?p_sid=134&p_site_id=128