Using a variety of demand management techniques can lead to a significant delay in the implementation of additional water augmentation measures The success of water resource management, including planning and operational aspects, depends to a large degree on the ability to quantify two variables realistically: the yield capability of the water resource system and the projected future water demand. The estimates of future water demand can be influenced significantly by many factors, including population movements (or growth) and any initiatives of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) to promote more efficient utilisation of water. Most of the analyses completed to date are based on demand projections that do not include any allowance for lower growth in demand owing to demand management measures that are likely to be implemented in the very near future.
Would it be better to move economic activity to where the water is rather than trying to bring the water to the economic heartland of the country? This was one of the ideas examined by the DWAF. The objective of the Vaal Augmentation Planning Study (VAPS) was to identify and evaluate all the options available for augmenting the water supply to the Vaal River supply area . An argument that recently came to light, however, is that it is preferable for economic activity to be located where water is more plentiful, thus doing away with the need to augment the water supply of the Vaal River System.
Another of the options for supplying water to the Vaal supply area is to transfer it from another of South Africa's large rivers, The Thukela (Tugela) River, with a catchment area of some 29 000 km2, is the second largest river in South Africa. The catchment is characterised by marked contrasts in topography, vegetation, population distribution and sociological systems. Peculiar political structures from the past compound the complexities of the basin, which is home to some 20 per cent of KwaZulu-Natal's population of about eight million.
If you ask any group of civil engineers these days for possible reasons to explain the reduced numbers and lower general academic quality of school-leavers entering civil engineering at universities over recent years, you will often get a wide range of answers. Many will say that they believe the poor image of the civil engineer is to blame, some will point fingers at the recurring downturns in the industry, which frighten parents off, while others will propose that it is the greater attractiveness of the other engineering disciplines that keeps potential students away rather than any faults in civil engineering itself. Unfortunately, however, there appears to be little data available to indicate what the true reasons for the shortage might be and thus assist the industry in general, and ourselves in particular, to highlight what measures might be taken to correct the problem.
The British government launched its Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in 1992 with the stated aim of increasing the private sector's involvement in the provision of public services. It appointed a panel of experts to advise government on how to implement the initiative successfully and relaunched the Initiative in 1995. Privatising the ownership of enterprises and contracting out the provision of services are government policies with similar aims. Firms whose work is mostly about capital projects will have to adapt their ways to the manner in which so many new projects are being set up. This article is a look and think exercise. The views in it are the author's; he hopes they will help to focus and direct engineers' role.