A 'draft: for comment' White Paper on Sanitation was recently released, the product of an inter-departmental National Sanitation Task Team. The document is in the stage of 'detailed consultation with interested parties, which is taking place at workshops that will have been held in all provinces by April. Whereas White Papers from previous governments often focused on specific projects, the Government of National Unity has correctly concerned itself more with proposals for policy change in the spirit of the RDP. This White Paper begins by stating that it is a 'policy paper' and that it 'starts where the previous  White Paper on Water Supply and Sanitation Policy ended'.
Like Topsy this article grew. It began life in 1992 during visits to civil engineers throughout South Africa. It was then no more than a burr under the skin arising from a deep-rooted frustration among members. Our work was seldom appreciated and we were doubting our own worth. Two years later a workshop to direct the Institution's Strategic Plan brought many of these frustrations to the surface. A paper to the American Society of Civil Engineers by Michel Bruneau (1993) of the University of Ottawa helped direct the research that underpins this article and confirmed that we were not alone. Finally, a workshop at the Institution's Port Elizabeth congress in April 1995 and another with government and industry representatives in September 1995 added flesh to the bones.
Eutrophication is an increasing problem in water sources in South Africa; the Pretoria City Council has been looking at ways of solving the problem GFJ consulting engineers were commissioned by the Pretoria City Council last year to study an unusual problem at Rietvlei Dam, one of Pretoria's sources of drinking water. The assignment involved advanced monitoring and modelling to determine the flux and transformation of plant nutrients in the catchment area. With this as a basis, a catchment management and monitoring plan will be proposed to ensure the long-term integrity of Rietvlei Dam as a source of drinking water for Pretoria.
The eastern pavilion at Loftus Versfeld, a 1995 National Award nomination project, has given Pretoria's rugby fans greater proximity to the field and enhanced sightlines The new eastern pavilion, which finally completed the Loftus Versfeld Rugby Stadium in Pretoria, was by far the most challenging and complicated of the five structures designed by the consulting engineers for the Northern Transvaal Rugby Union.
The Upper Kei Basin Study shows the kind of in-depth investigation that will be expected more and more from the modern engineer The scope of society's demands on the civil engineering profession is rapidly expanding. We can no longer expect to be congratulated by society for merely ensuring that the works we build are impressive and technically sound. In addition, society now correctly demands that before such works are undertaken, all relevant issues be taken into account. These issues may include socio-economic considerations, public perceptions, environmental issues, future economic development scenarios, the views of specific interest groups and other factors. One of the 1994 nominations for the Border Branch Award for Excellence in Civil Engineering, the Upper Kei Basin Study, put this concept into practice.
Two steps forward, one step back: progress in social development will be eroded if countries do not take natural disasters into account in their development planning. This was one of the key messages emerging from a UN-sponsored World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction in Yokohama, Japan, in May 1994.
At an American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) Conference on Managing in Competitive Environments held in Chicago last April, members were counselled on how to respond to a single question: 'How can civil engineers gain more respect in comparison with other engineers who are engaged in producing the dramatic new products of Silicon Valley?' The answer was shocking: 'Tell them when you turn on the faucet for a glass of water, civil engineers made sure it is safe and potable ... when you flush the toilet civil engineers ensured the waste is properly treated ... when you drive to work, civil engineers designed the roadway you travel.' Really? Is that the message we want to tell the world, particularly new civil engineering students? I think not. In addition to being powerless, it also has the fundamental, almost elemental, sales pitch flaw: It is 'me'-oriented rather than customer-oriented.
The original Du Toitskloof Pass was first introduced to me by its main protagonist and planner, P A de Villiers (see his article in the December 1995 issue of the magazine), who drove me along the buchu farm road in his large left hand drive Packard to the summit, from the Wellington side. Years later when I returned to Cape Town the road was under construction and I never had to sit as a passenger in a left-handed Packard going up that farm track again.