The Algoa Reconciliation Strategy Steering Committee meeting led by the Department of Water Affairs has confirmed that measures to ensure sustainable water supply in the short and long term for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and surrounding areas are proceeding well. It also established that the most important measures to ensure water security for this important area are to intensify the implementation of further water conservation and water demand management (WC/WDM) initiatives to ensure efficient use of water, as well as the completion of the implementation of the Nooitgedagt Low-level Scheme to supplement the area’s water supply from the Orange-Fish-Sundays River transfer scheme. Investigations relating to the feasibility of developing further groundwater sources, water re-use and seawater desalination for supplying NMBM will continue.
The Algoa Reconciliation Strategy Study was undertaken in order to find solutions that will secure a sustainable future water supply for NMBM and the other towns served by the Algoa Water Supply System (Algoa WSS). The purpose of the Strategy is to annually determine the current water balance and to develop possible future water balance scenarios for a 25-year planning horizon.
The estimate of the uptake of industrial water requirements in the Coega IDZ is still very uncertain as new heavy industries have previously committed and then pulled out again – there is thus no clear indication of future uptake. Such investment is dependent on the availability of water and a sustainable power supply for investors. The updated estimate of potable long-term water requirements has not changed much, although the estimated rate of growth has changed. The Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs was approached for an amended Record Of Decision condition, which will permit NMBM to supply potable water in lieu of industrial standard water to the Coega IDZ, for a bridging period of 3 years until treated effluent from the Fish Water Flats Waste Water Treatment Works can be supplied to the Coega IDZ. Indications are that the growth in water requirements in the Kouga Local Municipality, particularly in the towns of Humansdorp, Jeffreys Bay and St Francis Bay has been significant in recent years. This trend will be investigated, to better understand what the cause is and how this increase in water requirements could impact on the water supply to NMBM.
Water Conservation and Water Demand Management
WC/WDM is a corner-stone strategy for this area and NMBM and other municipalities must continue and enhance the programmes that were already embarked upon. NMBM is undertaking repairs to water leaks on municipal water mains and leaks on properties. Further WC/WDM initiatives include an awareness campaign, zone metering, remote sensing data transfer, non-revenue water management, promulgation of a bylaw for the use of rainwater tanks, and pressure management schemes.
The Reconciliation Strategy set the NMBM a target to reduce water losses by 37 Ml/day over a 5-year period. From 2009/10 the real water losses dropped from 29,3% to 26,2% in 2010/11, which amounts to an estimated saving of 13 Ml/day or R27 million over the 12 months period. The same comparison for 2011 and 2012 showed an increase in real losses of 6 Ml/day, although there is some uncertainty about the values for the past year. The NMBM is however confident that ongoing WC/WDM interventions will ensure that the above target will be met. The contribution and positive support of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and its members in this respect is noteworthy.
There is further significant potential for water savings if water leaks at schools in the Metro are repaired. A Memorandum of Understanding is in place between the Department of Education (DoE) and NMBM which states that NMBM will determine the costs of repairs in the schools and that the Department of Education will pay for making such repairs. With an investment of R50 million, it is estimated that water wastage to the value of R150 million could be avoided. A budget for school repairs was being finalised by NMBM and DoE. DoE transferred R2.5 million to NMBM in July 2012 to commence with the project. Repairs started during August 2012 at 10 schools in Port Elizabeth and 10 schools in Uitenhage. DWA will provide an additional R2.5 million towards this project.
Nooitgedagt Low-level Scheme (NLLS) Implementation
Even with WC/WDM fully successful it is anticipated that the water requirement will increase in this economically active area with its growing population and economy. NMBM is constructing the Nooitgedagt Low-level Scheme as an extension to the existing High-Level Scheme that will treat Orange River water, delivered through the Orange-Fish-Sunday’s system, to drinking water standard for supply into the NMBM water supply system. An additional allocation of water from the Orange River has been approved by DWA and the environmental impact assessment for the scheme has been approved by the Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs (DEDEA). The project implementation supported by the emergency funding received from National Treasury is progressing well. The seven contracts which have been awarded to date will be completed between October 2012 and April 2013.
Some of the funding required for this project was obtained under the emergency drought funding and NMBM is still in the process to obtain the outstanding balance of the funds required to complete the scheme. Construction should be completed by the end of 2014, depending on the availability of the required funding. Funding is needed for completing phase 2 of the project which comprises of extensions to the Nooitgedagt Water Treatment Works (civil, mechanical and electrical), the construction of a 24 Ml reservoir and for acquiring the low-lift pump station mechanical equipment.
Based on the present status, completion of the Nooitgedagt Low-level Scheme could potentially be delayed until end 2014. A supply of water from Olifantskop to the Coega IDZ may be required by end 2013. In order to meet this requirement, a cross connection between the high-level and low-level pipelines will be made at the Nooitgedagt Water Treatment Works to enable supplying the IDZ with potable water..
Other interventions that would ensure water security over the longer term are:
- Groundwater development: groundwater can provide an affordable, dependable supply with minimal management. The final borehole siting along the Coega Kop area and the Uitenhage areas is nearly complete after which drilling can start.
- Water re-use: a study was done by the NMBM to determine the feasibility of the large-scale use of treated water from the Fishwater Flats Waste Water Treatment Plant to supply industries in Port Elizabeth and the Coega IDZ with industrial standard water. Funding will have to be sought to finance the implementation this scheme.
- Desalination of seawater: The proposed emergency seawater desalination plant, located at the old Swartkops Power Station near the Swartkops Estuary could be a possible emergency measure during future droughts. The NMBM has since appointed consultants to investigate the feasibility of establishing a bigger desalination plant preferably to the western side of the Metro.