Water is available via the Gariep Dam but payment delays and budget cuts on the implementation of Phase 3 of the Nooitgedacht Low Level Water Scheme Purification plant could scupper the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro receiving an additional 70 Million litres of water per day. The current water consumption in the metro is around 280 Million litres per day.
This was revealed at an oversight visit today to Nooitgedacht hosted by Shadow Minister of Water and Sanitation, Leon Basson MP with Councillor Annette Lovemore – the Mayoral Committee Member of Infrastructure and Engineering in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“The reality is that national government failed in its duty to ensure an adequate supply of water and repair and maintain the aged water infrastructure which has exacerbated the severe water shortages in drought stricken provinces of the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo,” said Basson.
The Nooitgedacht Low Level Water Scheme in Addo purifies all the water that comes into the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan area delivered from the Gariep Dam in the Free State via tunnels, rivers and canals to the Scheepersvlakte Balancing Dam.
The delivery of this water forms part of the Orange-Fish-Sundays River Scheme. The Orange-Fish Tunnel was completed in 1975 and is the key structure by which water is delivered from the Gariep Dam, to the Teebus Spruit and the Great Brak River and from there to the Great Fish River and Sundays River Valleys. With a length of 82.8 km, the 5.35 m diameter tunnel is the longest continuous enclosed aqueduct in the southern hemisphere and the second-longest water supply tunnel in the world. The main purpose of the tunnel is to divert water to the Eastern Cape for irrigation, urban and industrial use. Over 200 000 m3 of concrete was used to line the tunnel which has a maximum capacity of 54 m3/s.
Water from the Gariep Dam is transferred to the Nooitgedacht Low Level Water Scheme via the Orange/Fish Tunnel to the Grassridge Dam near Cradock, then into the Great Fish River, down the Elandsdrift Weir, through the Cookhouse Tunnel to the Little Fish River, along the De Mist Kraal Weir, through the Skoenmakers Canal into the Lake Mentz Dam, released into the Korhaansdrift Weir through the Kirkwood Canals and into the Scheepersvlakte Balancing Dam. The final journey is via a 16 kilometre pipeline to the Nooitgedacht Water Treatment works.
When one contemplates this journey through two provinces and past many different municipalities one realises the reason why the provision of water is a National Government function – much like we have SANRAL completing the road connections from town to city to town etc.
SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
In 2011 the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality asked National Government for R708-million to fast-track the Nooitgedaght Low Level Scheme. An amount of R450 Million was allocated in 2012 for Phase One.
The Nooidgedacht Low Level Scheme Phase 2 project site was handed over on 10 December 2014 with physical construction scheduled to commence in April 2015 and completed in the first quarter of 2017.
An amount of R390 Million was then allocated for the Nooidgedacht Low Level Scheme Phase 3 project. This new purification plant will add 70 million litres per day to the Nelson Mandela Bay area. A three year project, the initial project budget was for R390 million and completion in 2020.
The first years Budget tranche was for R92 million which was then cut to R82 Million, then increased to R84 Million and finally on Wednesday 24 January the budget was cut to R58 Million. Payments already made on the project total R53 Million. Payments still to be made on outstanding invoices will total R28 Million which will exceed the available budget for this year by R23 Million.
If construction is stopped through the fault of the employer (National Government) then the contractor on site – Stefanutti Stocks – will be able to raise a penalty of R75 000.00 per day until payment and construction can commence again.
The reasons for using the Gariep Dam and it’s water are as a result of a study done in the 1990’s. According to Nelson Mandela Bay Water and Sanitation Director, Barry Martin; “If you go back in time, there has never been a situation where there has been a drought on the Algoa system as well as a drought on the inland system. So, when the drought was inland last time our dams were relatively full and the water in the Gariep Dam was getting low. This time around the Gariep is at about 50 percent and our dams are much lower than that. So it just shows you the separation and the difference we have because of the rainfall areas.”
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