SA launches water infrastructure drive


3 July 2013

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 millions of households.

The project, one of a set of Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) first announced by President Jacob Zuma in February 2012, was approved by the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission late last year.

“This programme, in simple terms, is a 10-year plan that will address the estimated backlog of adequate water to 1.4-million households and that of basic sanitation to 2.1-million households,” Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said at a launch event at the Vaal Dam, south of Johannesburg, on Saturday.

Molewa said that of the 914 water supply systems around the country assessed in her department’s latest “green drop” report, 41% required attention, while 55% of 821 wastewater treatment works assessed required serious, urgent refurbishment.

Throughout the next 10 years, the project – known as SIP 18 – is 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 is expected to create jobs while improving water service delivery countrywide and extending water supply to unserviced or underserviced areas.

Molewa said her department had identified several projects that would drive SIP 18, including the R5-billion Sedibeng Regional Sewer Scheme in Gauteng province.

Also on Saturday, Molewa officially commissioned a separate project, Rand Water’s R240-million BG3 pipeline, which runs from the Vaal Dam to Rand Water’s Zoekfontein Plant 8.6 kilometres away – making it sub-Saharan Africa’s largest water pipeline.

The BG3 pipeline runs adjacent to Rand Water’s existing BG1 and BG2 pipelines, which supply Gauteng province as well as parts of the neighbouring Free State, Mpumalanga and the North West provinces.

Molewa said the BG3 pipeline would not only augment raw water capacity to Zuikerbosch by up to 2 100 mega-litres a day, thus meeting the region’s projected growth in demand through 2030, but would also allow for crucial maintenance work on the other pipelines.