Addressing water security now and into the future: 
Zimile Consulting Engineers helps double town’s water supply

Increasing populations, ageing infrastructure, limited hydraulic capacity and drought conditions are water challenges facing many communities in South Africa, which places water security under threat and inhibits economic development. In these cases, urgent infrastructure investments and upgrades are needed, which leads to improved bulk water supply for current and future populations. Zimile Consulting Engineers has completed multiple projects improving bulk water supply in growing communities, and are nearing completion with another project in Kokstad, KwaZulu-Natal, for the Harry Gwala District Municipality.

Nhlanhla Ndlovu, Civil Engineer for Zimile Consulting Engineers, explains: “Kokstad is the fastest growing town in the district; the town’s current water needs are about 9Ml per day and are expected to rise to about 18Ml by 2035. Kokstad gets its water from the uMzintlava river system and the Crystal Springs dam. This project will more than double the town’s water supply from the river system, from about 6Ml per day to 14Ml per day, which will satisfy the water demand until 2030.”

Currently, there are water restrictions in Kokstad and some of the suburbs only receive water during limited hours of the day. There are various developments earmarked for the town, which are on hold because of the water challenges. This project, when complete together with the raising of the existing dam wall project (part of the UMzintlava river system), will provide surety of water supply in the town for the next decade. “This will unlock economic activity and greatly aid the town’s development objectives,” says Ndlovu.

The project is due to reach completion by 30 November 2021. “Zimile has had the pleasure of being involved in the project from its inception, through the design process to the current implementation stage. We started construction in September 2020 with a 500 mm diameter oPVC and steel raw water pipeline starting on the bank on the UMzintlava river, traversing a length of about 5km towards the existing 18Ml/d water treatment works located on the north-western section of the town, and upgrading of an existing pump station,” explains Ndlovu. The project is valued at R56-million. 

Zimile Consulting Engineers has completed previous contracts for the Harry Gwala District Municipality, and are underway with other water supply projects in Ubuhlebezwe, uMzimkhulu and Greater Kokstad local municipalities with scopes of works ranging from groundwater development, water reticulation networks, bulk supply pipelines, slow sand filters for spring water supply and refurbishment works. “We have learned that every project comes with its own challenges – especially in rural infrastructure development. However, we pride ourselves in applying our technical expertise to find solutions, as well as engaging with the communities in which we work. This ensures the suitability and sustainability of the projects we hand over,” says Ndlovu. 

He adds that technology is a key enabler of their process efficiency: “We have used technology extensively, created hydraulic and 3D models of the pump station and raw water pipelines. We have also compiled extensive research in materials, conducted cost analysis, material properties, thermal conductivity analysis, chemical resistivity and more. This ensures we can offer the best solutions with value for money.” 

“Over and above everything, this project will improve the lives of the communities in Kokstad town as they will have safe, clean reliable and uninterrupted water supply,” concludes Ndlovu.