Water pipes image

South Africa’s water security has mainly been reliant on surface (fresh) water and its development.

A possible 23 000 people may benefit from the new R18 bn Vaal Gamagara water project that was launched by the Department of Water and Sanitation in Kathu in the Northern Cape last Friday.

Phase one of the project will see the construction of an 82 km pipeline that will stretch from Roscoe in Kathu to Black Rock. According to the Department of Water and Sanitation, the project will include 14 livestock farms, 12 mines, solar parks and will benefit approximately 23 499 people from the surrounding communities of Kathu, Olifantshoek and Hotazel.

The maximum capacity of the current scheme is 2500m3/h. The department said that the new scheme will be able to supply a peak demand of 5200m3/h, including future water supply to Botswana. The system will also be upgraded by replacing the existing pipeline with a larger diameter pipeline.

Despite the original scheme, built 56 years ago, having exceeded its lifespan, the expanding iron ore and manganese mining operations has also escalated the need for a new pipeline. The current pipeline “no longer has the capacity to supply sufficient water to satisfy the increased demand brought about by mines, municipalities and agricultural production,” the department said.

Addressing those in attendance at the sod turning, Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said that SA’s water crisis had not improved and that recent rains were not enough to solve the problem.

“We know that there is rain in other parts of South Africa, but that is not necessarily going to make a difference because of the extent of the heat,” she said.

She also indicated that the pipeline is scheduled to be installed before the end of October.