Impumelelo Award Winners can help solve our Water Crisis


Written by: Colleen Bröcker                         Date: 9 July 2017

Dam levels remain critically low in the Western Cape, in spite of recent rains and attempts by the City to rein in residents’ use of water. Dam levels have dropped as low as 17% in recent months, with the last 10% being inconsumable.

Even when the heavens open up to fill our dams and tanks again, the alarming truth is that water will never be in abundance again, as water shortage has become a global phenomenon. 1.2 Billion People live in water scarce areas.

For this reason, Impumelelo has in recent years zoomed in on identifying innovative solutions in the Water and Sanitation and Environmental Sector.

An excellent example of such innovation identified by Impumelelo is the Drakenstein Municipality’s 8M/Day Meulwater Water Treatment Works. Previously the municipality had to buy 95% of its water supplies from the City of Cape Town, now it provides up to 25% of the town’s annual water requirements.

This project, situated on the boundary of the beautiful Paarl Mountain Reserve, has overcome significant challenges to provide a solution to the Drakenstein water needs in an extremely sensitive environmental area. The first of its kind in South Africa, it was designed and built to blend in with its natural surroundings. The Plant’s water treatment process enhances direct filtration of natural run-off water from the nearby storage dams through a dual-parallel lateral under drainage system. The Drakenstein Municipality further implemented a proactive systematic upgrade of the entire municipal water network to manage and reduce water losses and control the water demand and usage in high pressure zones. The results is the conservation of more than 142, 000 million litres of water, estimated at over R700 000 million in just over a decade. The non-revenue water losses also came down from 33% to a staggering 11% per annum. Through these innovations further savings were noted in the amount of water that needed to be treated through a waste water plant that significantly reduced energy consumption that would have had to be used to treat the water.

Saving water in SA has become critically important. Meulwater provides innovative solutions. What we need now is the political will to implement such models all over SA.