Question NW711 to the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

Share this page:

15 April 2021 - NW711

Profile picture: Mileham, Mr K

Mileham, Mr K to ask the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

(1)Noting that the Ndlambe Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape is suffering from a debilitating drought and that several communities are totally without water for days at a time, what action is her department taking to assist the municipality to resolve its bulk water supply issues; (2) what actions are being taken by the Amathole Water Board to provide alternative sources of water supply to the communities of (a) Bathurst, (b) Alexandria and (c) Port Alfred; (3) whether there has been any investigation into sourcing water from the Fish River; if not, why not; if so, what is the status of such investigation; (4) whether she has found that these alternative sources would be a viable option to provide water to the municipality; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what would be the (a) cost and (b) timelines for such a project


1. Honourable Member, as you have correctly indicated, the challenges in the Ndlambe Local Municipality (LM) are as a result of a debilitating drought in that area of the Eastern Cape. The Department of Water Sanitation (DWS) is engaged in ongoing efforts to assist the municipality with challenges relating to the provision of water. To this end, there are ongoing bilaterals with the municipality through a Joint Operations Committee (JOC) and Project Steering Committee (PSC).

The DWS has provided financial support of R80 million to the municipality to alleviate the impact of the drought for the following projects which are expected to be completed by June 2021:

  • Construction of a 2Ml/day Sea Water Reverse Osmosis Plant (SWRO)
  • Construction of a 3Ml/day Waste Water Reclamation (WWR) plant next to the current Waste Water Treatment Works in Port Alfred.

Further, the DWS has allocated R5.19 million for the supply and delivery of standby generators at strategic points to lessen water interruptions when there are power failures in the area. The funds will be utilised for:

    • Retrofitting and plumbing at households to try and minimize the water losses
    • installation of zonal water meters
    • installation of valves and pressure regulating valves that are to do water balances and pressure regulation which will also lessen water losses
    • Construction of a 4.4km pipeline WTW emergency water supply scheme for Bathurst

A further amount of R30 million has also been allocated to finish the work on the Brackish Water Reverse Osmosis (BWRO) plant in Port Alfred which was designed to purify the brackish water from the Sarel Hayward Dam as well as to complete the work on the pipelines from Cannon Rocks to Alexandria which will assist in pumping more water to Alexandria.

It is important to note that in addition to funding received from the DWS, the Ndlambe LM also receives funding through the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG). The municipality is implementing a separate project to refurbish Alexandria’s current well field resources and to construct a BWRO plant at Cannon Rocks which will augment Alexandria’s water by 1Ml/day.

2. Amatola Water was appointed as an Implementing Agent by the Ndlambe LM to construct and complete the BWRO plant, and the pipelines from Cannon Rocks to Alexandria. The Water Board has not been appointed to do augmentation of water resources and they are not doing any work on Bathurst. The entity is providing water to Bushmans River and Kenton on Sea by means of well fields and a Sea Water Reverse Osmosis Plant (SWRO) plant located at the Bushmans River.

The Amatola Water Board has approached the DWS to initiate a feasibility study for water augmentation throughout the Ndlambe LM area of jurisdiction, which is still under consideration. The Water Board is also implementing a Rapid Response Project in Alexandria utilising drought funding allocated by the DWS. The aim of the project is to find additional ground water for Alexandria and to connect it to the water distribution system.

3. An investigation was done in 2004, which considered sourcing water from the Fish River as part of a holistic study, the Albany Coast Situation Assessment. The recommended option was for the Glen Melville (Fish River) to be considered as a last resort, and only in the long term when local resources have been fully exploited, and also only if sea water desalination is not economical at that stage. Therefore, the current plan is to consider other alternative possible water sources for Ndlambe Local Municipality.

4. As indicated above, the DWS is currently funding the construction of the Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) and Waste Water Reclamation (WWR) plant to augment water supply to Port Alfred and Bathurst.

The construction of the WWR plant is a pilot project for future water resources for the rest of the province of the Eastern Cape. At least two thirds of the water augmented by a municipality should reach the Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW’s) and be reclaimed, and be purified to acceptable quality for domestic use. The cost of reclamation and purification of waste water is far less than the cost of purification of sea water. If this pilot project proves to be successful it may be implemented at all the towns within the Ndlambe Local Municipality.

(a) A Waste Water Reclamation plant costs about R7 per 1ml/day and the running cost is in the order of R7/m³. Therefore, the total cost depends on the size plant needed.

(b) The design and tender processes may take up to 6 months and the construction time estimation is 4 to 6 months, depending on the size of the plant and where it is situated; which would add up to an estimated 12 months for the whole process.

Source file