Rural water scheme wins design accolade

18 February 2014

An innovative municipal water project in Oudtshoorn has been selected as part of World Design Capital 2014, a prestigious designation bestowed on Cape Town by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.

The Oudtshoorn project is one of 450 selected to be part of the WDC2014 programme. It was chosen via rigorously adjudicated public submission processes that drew 1 253 entries. All projects were selected on the basis of how well they use design as a tool for social, cultural and economic development.

The Klein Karoo Rural Water Supply Scheme (KKRWSS) was implemented by the Department of Water Affairs in the early 1990s. It supplies drinking water from groundwater sources to a wide area that stretches from De Rust in the east to Calitzdorp in the west, including the town of Dysselsdorp.

The scheme was a brainchild of a “visionary councillor” Issy Baron, who dreamed of turning the arid Klein Karroo into an oasis to ensure water security for all the communities in the region, said Paul Muller, acting director: technical services at Oudtshoorn Municipality. It was transferred to the municipality in 2005.

The rural component of the scheme accounts for about 50% of the total supply of drinking water. Its main beneficiaries are farm workers and previously disadvantaged people living in the rural area between De Rust and Calitzdorp.

But the present supply from the groundwater source was insufficient to meet demand, so augmentation of the source was urgent, said Muller. A pipeline from the nearby Blossoms groundwater well field will alleviate the shortage.

Dr Chris Hartnady of Umvoto Africa, a consultancy that has been working with the municipality, said they would use groundwater from the deep fractured-rock aquifer in the Table Mountain Group (TMG) to augment the Melville and Raubenheimer reservoirs in the foothills of the Swartberg range.

It would also augment other groundwater sources, providing additional assurance of supply to communities like Dysseldorp and De Rust.

The scheme will manage the combined ground- and surface-water sources to ensure that yield is optimised and losses are minimised.

The proposed bulk water scheme will be designed by WorleyParsons, which has been involved with the feasibility studies to date. Partners have included the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, the Water Research Commission, the Department of Water Affairs, the Development Bank of South Africa, local stakeholders, landowners and farming organisations and drilling specialists.

The municipal cost to date has been R24-million and an additional R27-million has been allocated by the Department of Water Affairs. The total cost of the project is estimated at R200-million.

Rowena Hay, the MD of Umvoto Africa, said the project area also had potential as a geoheritage site – a tourist destination that would provide local and regional economic benefits throughout the year. This would create more income for the community and help ensure greater buy-in to the project.

Source: Umvoto Africa