By Danielle Petterson

By 2011, Stellenbosch Municipality had a huge backlog in the availability of bulk infrastructure, hampering development and growth in the region and leading to a moratorium on all new developments. 

The reason for this was the rapid urban expansion of Stellenbosch, which was not equally matched by the expansion and upgrade of bulk infrastructure by the municipality. In the water services sector, the municipality faced the following main concerns:

  • insufficient wastewater treatment capacity for present and future needs
  • insufficient reservoir storage and bulk water supply capacity.

Having identified these shortfalls in 2011, the municipality embarked on a process to make more funds available for the upgrading and expansion of bulk infrastructure. The budget for water services capital projects saw a significant increase of 142% between the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years. Water services now accounts for 51% of the municipality’s current budget.

Prioritising spend

The biggest challenge was to decide which services most needed the limited budget for bulk infrastructure upgrading and then prioritise spending accordingly.

According to Dries van Taak, manager: Water Services, Stellenbosch Municipality, the municipality previously identified high-priority projects to improve the situation, which were then used as a guiding principle.

The capital budget was prioritised to support bulk infrastructure in areas where development applications were already tabled that supported Stellenbosch’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and Spatial Development
Framework (SDF). “At the end of the day, it was decided to concentrate on specific bulk infrastructure that would support the development of the town,” explains Van Taak.

“We also allowed for phased and concurrent development where infrastructure provision would take some time to complete. Through this, we achieved some momentum in development, although the full bulk infrastructure would only be completed when the second  phase of the development was ready for implementation.”

Two of the key priority projects identified were the upgrade and expansion of the Stellenbosch Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) and the construction of a reservoir and pipeline in Franschhoek.