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Bulk water augmentation project to cost City R1.7-billion

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 May 2010

The [Cape Town] city council will soon be asked to give the financial green light to a R1,7-billion, multi-year bulk water augmentation project.

Berg River Dam

A report discussed at the utility services portfolio committee yesterday notes that additional bulk water supply infrastructure has become critical, to increase the water treatment, bulk storage and conveyance capacity of the city’s bulk water supply system.

The total capital cost of the bulk water augmentation system is estimated at R1,7bn, and the implementation time frame at about six years.

In his budget speech in March, mayoral committee (Mayco) member for finance Ian Neilson said while the scheme would not significantly affect the 2010/11 financial year’s budget, a tariff increase, projected to be 8 percent above inflation, would need to be phased in in subsequent years.

The additional infrastructure was necessary to ensure the system could continue to supply potable water during peak demand periods, as population and economic growth fuelled demand.

“If the infrastructure is not implemented timeously, the risk of having to implement water restrictions in some areas of Cape Town, or across the entire city during peak water demand periods in the hot dry summer months, will progressively increase,” the report said.

At a meeting of the mayoral committee in 2005, the proposed scheme was identified as a key component of the city’s water services development plan.

But long-term funding approval has now become urgent, and the city council will be asked to recognise that allowance will have to be made for the project in the city’s budget for the next six years.

Bulk Water manager Peter Flower noted in yesterday’s report that he needed to “reinforce the urgent need to finalise the funding mechanism in order that the early stages of the project will not be compromised, resulting in delays in final implementation”.

Flower told the Cape Argus that it was critical that the project now be accommodated in the city’s long-term budget planning, and that it not be pushed back another year.

It was essential for long-term planning and to ensure the city’s water supply, as well as to ensure minimal impact in terms of tariff spikes.

Meanwhile, the city yesterday announced a R538m up-grade of the metropole’s electricity network in the coming financial year.

“The city is following a proactive maintenance and replacement programme to avoid any Eskom-type crises,” Mayco member for utility services Clive Justus said, adding that it was essential for the city to timeously replace and maintain its equipment and infrastructure.

He said maintenance and repair this year received priority spending, with a 3 percent allocation above inflation.

The more than R0.5bn allocation would provide for the commencement of upgrades of substations at Rosmead Avenue, Roggebaai, Strand, Oakdale, Langeberg, Retreat and Parow South.

A new substation would also be built to serve Century City.

“All these upgrades will reduce the risk of power failures,” Justus said, adding that a further R80m would provide for new service connections and associated infrastructure, while R58m was set aside to address the augmentation of the overall system.

– Ella Smook – iol

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