8M/DAY MEULWATER TREATMENT WATER WORKS
DRAKENSTEIN MUNICIPALITY, DEPARTMENT OF WATER AFFAIRS

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The town of Paarl, located in the Drakenstein Municipality, purchased all of its water from the City of Cape Town at the expensive rate of R3.33 per kilo/liter. Potential water supplies existed at the nearby Nantes and Bethel storage dams as well as from the Berg River. Reservoirs and pipelines also existed to feed the water into the town. However, this area lacked the treatment facilities needed in order to treat the water. Without adequate water treatment, the dams and supporting infrastructure could not be utilized. It was necessary to develop a method of treating water in the Paarl area in order to utilize these resources.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Drakenstein Municipality proposed the solution. It developed an eight million liter per day water treatment works plant in order to utilize the dams, reservoirs and pipelines in the Paarl area. The plant did so by using a direct filtration process, deep filter beds, air scour and sub-fluidization velocity backwashing, declining rate hydraulic control, a superior dosing control system and a flexible design that allows the future implementation of advanced filtration processes. The building was built with ‘green’ roofs, features to minimize light pollution and exterior architecture that mimics that surrounding environment. The plant has been effective in significantly reducing the cost of water supplied to the Paarl area by effectively utilizing surrounding water resources.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The treatment processes used within the plant are uncommon in South Africa. The direct-filtration method requires a more specific design but has resulted in a particularly effective and environmentally sustainable water treatment process. Combining air scour and sub-fluidization velocity backwashing is also an uncommonly used process that has resulted in significantly extending the life of the filters within the Meulwater Treatment Works plant and effectively cleaning the filter bed. The use of coarser and deeper filter beds than normal have allowed for increased storage, longer filter cycles and higher filter rates. The use of a novel hydraulic flow control process has produced better-filtered water quality by selectively forcing water through the cleanest filters. Even the design of the plant is innovative. It has been designed so that an additional phase separation process can occur if the plant requires greater solid handling capacity in the future. The plant has been modeled to resemble the surrounding environment and uses power saving technology to minimize its environmental impact.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
A report by Ninham Shand (now Aurecon) identified the need for a water treatment plant in the Paarl area in 2001. The report stated that constructing a local treatment works plant would reduce the cost of water in the long term by a significant amount. It showed that the treatment plant could be constructed downstream of existing dams and upstream of the command reservoir in order to maximize the use of existing water supply infrastructure. It would provide greater growth capacity and ensure that local resources were utilized. A design team composing of civil, geotechnical, structural, mechanical, electrical and electronic engineers, as well as architects and botanists, collaborated to produce a design that both treated water effectively and minimized that impact of the plant on the surrounding environment. A timeline was created in order to ensure that the project proceeded in a timely manner. An environmental impact assessment was conducted from 2001 – 2006, the design of works was conducted from 2006 – 2008, the construction of the plant occurred from 2008 – 2012, and the plant was commissioned by the Drakenstein Municipality in May 2012. Throughout this process, the project team worked closely with the Drakenstein Municipality in order to ensure that funding goals were met. The team also worked with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to obtain environmental approvals. Once environmental authorization was obtained, Aurecon created a more detailed design of the plant, which outlined the treatment process. Two contracts were drafted: a civil work contract and a mechanical/electrical work contract. Aurecon provided contract, construction, health and safety and environmental oversight while the project was being constructed.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The Department of Water Affairs, the Drakenstein Municipality, and Aurecon were the stakeholders involved in the implementation. The Department of Water Affairs contributed 60% of the funding, the Drakenstein Municipality contributed 40% of the funding, and Aurecon acted as a consultant throughout the planning phase and construction of the plant.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The total cost of the project was R34.7 million. The cost of civil works on the project was R15.2 million and the cost of mechanical works was R12.7 million. The Municipal Infrastructure Grant contributed R29.8 million and the Municipality supplied the remaining R4.9 million. The project used more than 1000m3 of concrete, 85 tons of steel and blasted 1500 tons of granite. Aurecon identified the site for the plant, created a detailed design and assisted in finding the Central Government Municipal Infrastructure Grant as a source of funding. An environmental team was hired to obtain environmental authorization and dealt with parties that expressed interest in the construction of the plan. Aurecon also oversaw the contract, and hired construction monitors, a Health and Safety agent and an environmental control officer.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The treatment process was a successful output of the Meulwater Treatment Water Works program. The use of a direct filtration process, deep filter beds, air scour and sub-fluidization velocity backwashing, declining rate hydraulic control, a superior dosing control system and a flexible design to treat water contributed to a treatment process that is superior to many other processes. It has both resulted in significant cost savings and a higher quality water treatment process than traditional systems. The design of the Meulwater Treatment plant was another successful output. Designing the plant so that it mimics the natural environment by cladding it in granite, minimizing light pollution and hiding the plant has both minimized its environmental impact and reduced the cost of the plant. The construction cost (excluding professional services), totaled R34.7 million, which was considered very cost effective.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Aurecon oversaw the construction of the Meulwater Treatment Water Works plant. They conducted a water supply master study in order to determine the optimal place to construct the plant. They assigned an environmental team to resolve issues with interested and affected parties, particularly those who expressed concerns with the construction of the plant on Paarl Mountain. They worked in collaboration with the Department of Water Affairs and the Drakenstein Municipality to secure funding. Aurecon also drafted contracts for workers such as a civil works contract and a mechanical and electrical work contract. Aurecon then oversaw these contracts to ensure that there was compliance and provided construction-monitoring services. It also provided a Health and Safety agent and an environmental control officer. The Drakenstein Municipality now conducts oversight of plant workers in order to ensure compliance.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacle encountered was the environmentally sensitive location of the Meulwater Treatment Water Works plant. Aurecon determined that the ideal location for the plant was a site downstream of existing dams and upstream of the command reservoir, on part of the Paarl mountain nature reserve. In order to address possible environmental issues, heritage and environmental specialists were consulted in order to design a water treatment plant that had a minimal impact on the environment. The plant was designed so that it resembled the nearby granite rock structures and featured roofs that were planted with various indigenous plants. Shielded knee-level lights and careful landscaping minimized its light pollution. The plant was also designed to be low-lying, so as to minimize its presence. The local flora was preserved. An additional obstacle was ensuring that the plant was cost effective. The use of an environmentally optimized design and innovative water treatment processes minimized the environmental footprint and allowed for cost effective construction. The total cost was approximately R34.7 million, which was considered very reasonable for the plant of its size.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The Meulwater Treatment Water Works plant successfully provided the Drakenstein Municipality with approximately 25% of its water usage needs. It drew water from the Nantes Dam, Bethel Dam and Berg River, which have a combined total capacity of 2650 million liters. While the current treatment capacity of the plant is 8 million liters per day, it can later be upgraded to 15 million liters in order to better serve the needs of the community. This process of using local water sources is far more cost effective than purchasing water from Cape Town. City of Cape Town water costs approximately R3.33 for 1000 liters of water, whereas water treated with the Meulwater Treatment Water Works plant costs R2.22 for 1000 liters. As the capacity of the plant increases, this process will save the municipality even greater amounts of money. The Meulwater Treatment Water Works plant also provides employment opportunities for local residents. People from the Drakenstein Municipality have been trained and employed to work on the plant. Existing municipality staff have received additional training and have been given opportunities to work in a wide range of positions. The innovative construction of the plant can also be used as a model by organizations that seek to build similar water treatment plants. The direct filtration process, deeper filtration beds, air scour and sub-fluidization backwash procedures, declining rate hydraulic control and superior dosing control are effective and cost-saving.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The Meulwater Treatment Water Works plant is sustainable and transferable. The municipality has complete ownership over the operations and maintenance of the plant. The plant receives funding from both the Department of Water Affairs and the Drakenstein Municipality. It will eventually save the municipality money, because water treated at the plant is significantly less expensive than purchasing water from the City of Cape Town. The project can be transferred to other municipalities that face similar problems. The plant uses advanced technology to effectively address issues of water treatment while minimizing its impact on the environment. Yet in order for the project to be successfully implemented in other municipalities, it is necessary that those in charge have the necessary expertise. Extensive oversight and the use of a well-qualified team of professionals are necessary in order to determine how to best design and build the plant.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The project managers of the Meulwater Treatment Water Works plant learned that clear oversight must exist throughout the completion of an initiative in order to ensure that it is successfully completed. Aurecon provided extensive support with the selection of the site, the establishment of relationships with environmental departments, the design of the water treatment plant, the drafting of contracts and the appointment of officials in order to ensure that processes were followed. Additionally important was the use of a wide range of qualified professionals. Collaboration between heritage specialists, botanists, landscapers, architects, treatment specialists and engineers led to an innovative design that used advanced water treatment technology and had a minimal environmental impact. The site was rehabilitated with the indigenous plants that were removed creating a blend between the water construction and its natural surroundings. Other municipalities that seek to build water treatment plants can learn from the Meulwater Treatment Water Works plant. Its successful implementation can save municipalities significant financial resources and provide citizens with dependable sources of water.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   DRAKENSTEIN MUNICIPALITY, DEPARTMENT OF WATER AFFAIRS
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Andre Kowalewski
Title:   Mr  
Telephone/ Fax:   27218074708
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   andrek@drakenstein.gov.za  
Address:   Market Street, Box 1
Postal Code:   7646
City:   Paarl
State/Province:   Western Cape
Country:  

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