Water infrastructure management entity Amatola Water expects to complete key sanitation projects for the OR Tambo district municipality, in the Eastern Cape, by 2016, states Amatola Water interim CEO Mzimkulu Msiwa.
Amatola Water was appointed the implementing agent for about 20 water and sanitation projects, collectively valued at more than R2.729-billion as part of the King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) municipality’s Presidential Intervention’s water and wastewater upgrade infrastructure projects. These interventions were launched in 2009 and aim to address and refurbish rundown infrastructure in and around Mthatha for the KSD municipality.
“Further, key aims of the project include ensuring a reliable and stable water supply and enhancing the rural livelihood of the surrounding communities,” Msiwa says, adding that augmentation of the wastewater treatment works and bulk sewer pipelines in Mqanduli and Mthatha will support economic growth.
The sanitation projects, upgrades and additional infrastructure at Mthatha include the wastewater treatment works and the southern sewers, which are expected to be completed by May 2016, while the northern sewers and the outer west sewers are expected to be completed by April and August 2016 respectively.
“Our primary focus falls on the northern and southern sewers in Mthatha, with the construction schedule still on track,” he says, noting that the contractors are involved in site establishment plans.
Rehabilitation and Upgrades
Phases 1A and 1B of the upgrades – which were completed at the beginning of April – at the Mthatha wastewater treatment plant entailed the provision of new ponds and the refurbishment of existing ponds, drying beds and related infrastructure, including a new chlorination tank, Msiwa says.
“This phase deals with the existing wastewater treatment capacity deficit and provides nominal capacity for growth,” he explains, adding that the phase was implemented because of urgent commercial developments, such as the shopping centres at Sidwadwa and the extensions to the Circus Triangle shopping complex, both of which need to be accommodated in the KSD municipality, and to manage surcharges experienced during peak wet weather flows.
Further, the second contract of Phase 1B entails upgrading the existing and new inlet structures to receive inflows of up to 50-million litres a day, as they will manage current sur- charges and provide the facility for future expan- sion. Construction of the R20-million phase is under way, Msiwa says, adding that the site has been established and cleared, with facility establishment plans also under way.
Green Drop Compliance
The upgrades of the wastewater treatment works and associated sewerage in Mthatha follow after the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) – in its strategic plan for 2013 to 2018 – noted areas of concern in the water and wastewater management industry, which included the poor management of wastewater treatment works, which has resulted in the deteriorating raw water quality of receiving water sources and the slow delivery of sanitation areas.
Further, Msiwa notes that the existing wastewater treatment works at Mthatha are not conforming to the Green Drop standards, published in 2011.
The DWA states that government’s Green Drop regulation programme provides focus, commitment and planning, as well as the resources needed to achieve excellence in wastewater management, adding that the programme devel- ops core competences required for the sector to “gradually and sustainably improve the level of wastewater management in South Africa”.
The Green Drop standards comprise several variables, including the physical attributes of the effluent, the capacity of the different structures, the operational and maintenance strategies of the plants and the skills levels of the operators, Msiwa says, adding that the Green Drop audits and certification take place every second year.
The audits entail applying the set of Green Water Services Audit criteria to assess the performance of wastewater systems, the results of which are published in the ‘Green Drop Report’, which, in turn, is published by the DWA. The report is available online.
“The upgrades in which Amatola Water is involved aim to achieve the Green Drop standards specified by the DWA,” Msiwa comments.
“In addition to having to deal with more sewage, our target is to ensure that the environmental integrity of the receiving streams and the Mthatha river is significantly enhanced and that the discharged effluent meets the required quality standards,” he says.
As part of its strategy, Amatola Water is focusing on another new phase of development for the Mthatha wastewater treatment plant, which entails doubling its capacity from 12-million litres a day to 24-million litres a day. Msiwa points out that design processes are under way and tenders will be requested in the second half of this year.
The phase will include the construction and installation of biofilters, digesters, sludge beds and more efficient associated equipment.
Msiwa believes that the Mthatha wastewater treatment works’ operational capacity, current condition and performance can be measured at 75% to 80%. “Several refurbishments, such as refurbishment of scrapers in the settling tanks and pumps that have exceeded their design life and additional electronic equipment, are necessary.
“Further, the OR Tambo district municipality aims to implement its maintenance and opera- tional strategy for the wastewater treatment plant this year, ensuring that all the routine operations and maintenance works, particularly planned and reactive maintenance, are carried out in line with the Green Drop standards,” he adds, noting that operators’ skills will also be enhanced to meet the prescribed standards of the DWA.
The Mqanduli Sewer Project
Meanwhile, Amatola Water also completed the R20-million first phase of the Mqanduli sewer project last month, which entails the construction of the Mqanduli wastewater treatment plant and the sewer bulk pipelines to the Mqanduli wastewater treatment plant, Msiwa says. The project will be commissioned soon.
Further, Phase 2 of the Mqanduli sewer project entails the construction of a sewer reticulation network in and around Mqanduli town, he says, stressing that the project will ensure that all the households are connected to the sewer system and that 414 new waterborne toilet structures are constructed.
Although the entity expects to complete construction at the end of the year, construction on the phase is yet to start, Msiwa concludes.