The local Knysna- and Bitou municipalities within the Eden region recently experienced the worst drought in over hundred years. This resulted in severe water restrictions being implemented in these municipalities.
The drought necessitated the considering of cross-boundary projects as identified in Eden’s Regional Bulk Water Masterplan. The regional integration of bulk water supplies of the two municipalities was subsequently, in collaboration with the two municipalities, identified as a key project requiring implementation.
Eden District Municipality therefore launched, in collaboration with Bitou and Knysna, a Feasibility Study of the Regional Integration of a Bulk Water Supply System for Bitou and Knysna municipalities on Tuesday, 29 April 2013, at the Council Chambers of Eden. According to Mr Faan van der Merwe, Eden’s Project Manager: “Aurecon Consulting Engineers was appointed during October 2012 to carry out the study. The study will be undertaken in three phases. The first phase entails the inception/scoping report summarising the data gathered for the study area and overview thereof. This was presented by Dr Mike Shand of Aurecon Engineers at the launch.
The investigation is aimed at combining individual municipal bulk water for the optimal development of regional supplies for medium- and long term in a phased approach. The objectives therefore are to identify the water resource and bulk water requirements of both Knysna and Bitou Local Municipalities for the next 20 years and also to explore the technical and economic viability of integrating the bulk water supply systems of Knysna and Bitou. The regional bulk water supply scheme might involve developing potential new surface water, ground water, re-use, and desalination resources in an integrated manner and considering opportunities for integrating the planning and operation of these systems. Consideration would be given to link the schemes with a new bulk water pipeline which will pump water in either direction.
Knysna’s Executive Mayor, Cllr Georlene Wolmarans, at the event, said: “We all had a big scare during the drought period here in our district. One of the towns in our municipal area, Sedgefield, was entirely out of water for a short while”. Wolmarans added by saying: “The drought may have been a blessing in disguise, as it really highlighted the realities of our water supply infrastructure and ultimately led to the fast tracking of the augmentation projects in our area.”
Cllr Wessie Van der Westhuizen, Eden’s Executive Mayor, emphasised: “These occasions create opportunities whereby local government, institutions and organisations, reflect on present day thinking and ponder questions around boundaries of certain processes and spheres of responsibilities. The reality of co-operative governance and working together is brought to the fore during occasions of disasters and despair. Similar thinking occurred in the area of water supply and quality of distribution for the eastern coastal areas of the Eden District.”
Executive Mayor of Bitou, Cllr Memory Booysen, Mayoral Committee members, Municipal Managers and officials from participating municipalities including Eden’s project manager, Mr Faan van der Merwe, as well as officials from Department: Water Affairs and the Development Bank of South Africa also attended the launch.