Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Water and Sanitation urged to fast-track Clanwilliam Dam construction

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The Brandvlei Dam Feeder Canal Project was officially opened on 10 February in Rawsonville. The new canal walls, which were raised by 30cm, will allow for an additional 33 million cubic meters of water to be stored in the Brandvlei Dam.

Anton Bredell, Western Cape minister of local government, environmental affairs and development planning and Senzu Mchunu, national minister of water and sanitation attended the opening of the canal.

“The new canal will improve current agricultural water security downstream and allow for the development of an additional 4400ha of farmland. If we can realise this agricultural growth, it will also benefit the economies of the surrounding towns, creating jobs throughout the value chain, and help us to fight poverty,” minister Bredell said.

Read more about the Western Cape water expansion plans here.

Bredell asked that the Clanwilliam Dam enlargement project, at a cost of R3,5 billion, now receive the minister of water and sanitation’s full attention. “This project will provide water security to the Lower Olifants River farming community and allow for an additional 6 000ha of irrigation farming to be developed. It will allow the entire region to grow economically, create jobs and fight poverty.”

Bredell said water infrastructure, such as the Brandvlei Dam and the Clanwilliam Dam, but also all municipal reservoirs, treatment plants, wastewater plants, boreholes and pipe networks are basic tools to address water security, even more so in the context of climate change and a growing population.

“The Western Cape is predicted to get hotter and drier. At the same time, we have a positive population growth. We need to plan and invest in water infrastructure to make sure we can provide basic services, such as water and sewage disposal to all our residents,” he said.

According to Bredell the current dam levels in the Western Cape, which according to the latest figures from the Department of Water and Sanitation, is at an average of 50,9%. This is concerning. The summer is not over yet, and there are no guarantees that the winter rainfall will be sufficient, so it is important that all water users in the Western Cape help protect the water supply. The Department of Local Government is monitoring and supporting municipalities in the province in terms of water security.

Read more about the monitoring of the Vaal-Orange River system here.

Bredell said more regular meetings between water role-players and the Department of Water and Sanitation is needed to determine the need for water restrictions. “Currently, the Department of Water and Sanitation assesses the situation once a year in November. But come next November, the situation might have deteriorated too far.”

The Western Cape Treasury recently allocated R88 million from contingency funds to allow all municipalities in the province to procure additional diesel generators for emergency backup systems in the face of continued load shedding. “We need electricity for our water systems to function. These generators are expensive to run, but at least local authorities will be in a better position to provide basic services in times when Eskom cannot provide electricity,” Bredell said. – Press release, Western Cape Department of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

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