A few years ago, I worked as an assistant resident engineer on a gold mine tailings dam construction site in Mali, West Africa. In the heart of Bamako, the capital city of Mali, there is a huge open market, partly under a dilapidated warehouse, where illegal gold, international currencies, branded clothing and shoes, vegetables, kitchenware and many more items are available for purchase.
At the end of last year Richard Robertson resigned as Chairman of MBB Services International (MSI), but remains a director and shareholder of MBB Pietermaritzburg, and a shareholder of the holding company. For 24 years Richard helped to lead MBB Consulting Engineers, one of Africa's largest agricultural engineering groups.
In 2008 the SAICE Water Engineering Division assembled a group of water specialists from a range of disciplines to prepare a submission to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs. The upshot was the pairing of the two words "water" and "crisis", which have since become common coinage.
South Africa is rapidly approaching the full utilisation of its fresh water resources, and most of the remaining potential has already been committed to be developed. The good news, however, is that it is highly unlikely that our country will "run out" of water resources, although we could end up paying a lot more for fresh water due to the planning, development and intervention initiatives that will be required to sustain the requirement for water, according to a report, An Assessment of the Ultimate and Future Marginal Cost of Water Resources in South Africa, that was commissioned by the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) last year.
South Africa is a water-scarce country with an annual runoff that is less than 13% of the world average. In addition, the country has a very uneven rainfall distribution varying from 10 mm/annum in the west to over 2 000 mm/annum in the Drakensberg Mountains in the east. Despite limited water resources and continually increasing demands, very few municipalities can provide accurate water balance data and most have no accurate record-keeping of their input volume or billed consumption.
The fundamental objectives for managing South Africa's water resources are to achieve equitable access to water resources and their sustainable and efficient utilisation. According to the National Water Resources Strategy (NWRS), although the country's water resources are limited and highly variable, they will be sufficient to support social and economic development for the foreseeable future, provided they are judiciously managed and wisely allocated and utilised.
In 2008 the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) appointed Aurecon and Afri-Coast Engineers to develop a reconciliation strategy for ensuring a sustainable future water supply for Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) and for the other towns and the irrigators served by the Algoa Water Supply System (AWSS).
Hydropower is recognised worldwide as robust and well-tested renewable energy technology in the electricity generation sector, preferred because of its efficient energy conversion processes. Modern installations can convert up to 95% of the energy of moving water into electricity.
A change in the steady state operating condition of a fluid system, unintentionally by means of the closure of a valve or unplanned pump operational change, or due to system failure, is communicated to the system by pressure waves propagating from the point of origin in the system at which the change in steady flow condition had been imposed.
As South Africa embarks on massive infrastructure development, especially in the water sector, there is a need for quality control of designs that are being put up for construction of water supply projects. Water is a scarce commodity in South Africa and needs to be utilised efficiently and wisely. Thus designs must aim at supplying water to a large number of planned users where a reliable source of water is located.
The existing Northdene Tunnel was constructed circa 1927 as part of Durban's very first large water supply from Shongweni Dam to the Northdene Filters. However, Durban's water requirements grew and changed over time, and the water supply from Shongweni eventually became too small to be cost-effective.
SANRAL (South African National Road Agency Limited) awarded a tender to BKS (Pty) Ltd for the design and implementation of the widening of the R27 bridges crossing the Orange and Sout Rivers (near Keimoes, as shown in Figure 1). Prof Fanie van Vuuren and Marco van Dijk from the University of Pretoria were commissioned to undertake a detailed hydrological and hydraulic assessment of the Orange River at the sites where the bridges near Keimoes had to be improved. The project involved the widening and possible raising of four single-lane structures near Keimoes to handle a design flood based on a specific recurrence interval.
Dams play a very important role in the development and management of South Africa's water resources. Future dam construction is therefore planned as part of the general infrastructure development in South Africa. South Africa in fact has a large investment in dam infrastructure and this infrastructure needs regular maintenance and periodic rehabilitation. The recent SAICE infrastructure report card highlights that there has been some improvement in the quality of dam infrastructure, but that it is still not at a satisfactory level. The Department of Water Affairs has a major programme under way in this respect.
Tony Murray succeeded in giving a delightful account of this great South African civil engineer and the practice he founded. Anybody interested in civil engineering will find this beautiful publication, with its many photos of dams, hydroelectric and water and waste water schemes, pumped storage schemes, bridges, road projects and many well-known characters / 'legends' fascinating.
At the time of its proposal more than a decade ago, the Cosmo City housing development was seen as a pioneering prototype for the post-1994 challenges to redress urban spatial inefficiencies in South Africa. In part, this was to be achieved through an overhaul in the country's legislative and policy framework for land-use planning.