Water boost for eThekwini

Durban's largest water pipeline ever

The Western Aqueduct pipeline will help to provide Durban with an assured, sustainable supply of water
water infrastructure

The eThekwini municipality has allocated an additional R580 million over the next three years to accelerate construction of key components of the Western Aqueduct (WA) bulk water pipeline in order to provide Durban with an assured, sustainable supply of water. This is critical if development of the key northern coastal corridor is to continue.  

Neil Macleod, head of eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS), confirmed this week that construction of the second phase of the Western Aqueduct was already well underway. Cycad Pipelines, which was awarded the first contract for the seven kilometre stretch between InchangasStation and Alverstone Neck in March, has already cleared some of the pipeline corridor and has begun to excavate trenches near Inchanga station.

According to project manager, Martin Bright, the second contract for the segment of the pipeline, which begins at Alverstone Nek and continues to Ashley Drive in Hillcrest, was awarded to a local company, WK SA Construction, this week. Construction is expected to begin within the next month.

An additional contract along the 55 kilometre pipeline route, which stretches from Inchanga station to Ntuzuma, is expected to be awarded shortly. This means that the full length of the main spine of the Western aqueduct will be under construction by next year.

The Western Aqueduct project has been designed and is being monitored by the Knight Piesold/Naidu Consulting/Royal Haskoning DHV Joint Venture.

The first phase of the Western Aqueduct, which covered 19 kilometres from Umlaas Road to Inchanga station, was commissioned in June 2011. The second phase of Durban’s largest ever water pipeline project has been dogged by unavoidable delays. As a result, at the beginning of 2013, EWS decided to unbundle the mega project into individual contracts that would be rolled out over a seven-year period. The release of additional funds will accelerate this, allowing the pipeline to be completed as early as 2017.  

Bright said that additional funding has enabled EWS to link the next two contracts together so that the pipeline, reaching from Ashley Drive all the way to the NR5 Resevoir at Ntuzuma, could be completed in one go. The tender for this contract as well as one for a massive 20 mega-litre break pressure tank at Ashley Drive are expected to be awarded during the last quarter of 2013.

Macleod said that this infrastructure was now critical for further development of Durban to the west or the north west. Critical projects such as the Dube Tradeport and Cornubia were being held back by a lack of water.

The second phase of the Western Aqueduct is expected to significantly strengthen the capacity of bulk water supply to the western regions of eThekwini, injecting up to 400 megalitres per day. It will also feed into the urgently needed Northern Aqueduct which will take water to the north. This is expected to get underway at the beginning of next year.

“We have enough water to meet the current demand but we don’t have the infrastructure to deliver it to where it is needed. We don’t have the network capacity to supply water,” Macleod explained.

Currently, water outages in areas as such as Ntuzuma and Inanda are common and EWS will be purchasing an additional 30 tankers to ferry water to these areas, Macleod said.

Up until recently, Macleod has warned that Durban’s water situation was tenuous with supply outstripping demand which meant that the city was in danger of water restrictions following the slightest dip in rainfall. The completion of the new Springrove Dam at Mooi River, together with high rainfall that has kept dams supplying water to the greater Durban area full during the dry winter months has ensured that available supply and demand are balanced.

However, he added, Durban remains in “a honeymoon period” with the slightest escalation in development likely to upset the situation once more. “From 2014 onwards, we start slipping back to where the supply is not statistically able to meet the demand,” he warned.


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