Veolia was contracted by uMkhanyakude District Municipality to design and build the new Shemula Water Treatment Plant to address the severe water shortages in uMkhanyakude and surrounding districts. The project is part of the new Ingwavuma Bulk Water Jozini Scheme - a Department of Water and Sanitation's key priority. Deemed a presidential project, the initiative will also entail Veolia educating surrounding communities about the importance of water, as well as employ local community members during construction and to maintain the Shemula Water Treatment Plant.
Situated in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Pongola Dam in Jozini has historically been a single purpose dam providing water for irrigation requirements to the surrounding farms. Through the national government intervention to respond to the dramatic increase in rural development and increasing population in the area and the surrounding districts (such as Nkandla), this project has become the key to unlock service delivery in the region, i.e. consistent supply and provision of potable waterto the people.
From Veolia's perspective, this project began in January 2014 and will be integrated with phase 1A (currently in construction by an external company) which consists of all civil works and infrastructure for bulk reticulation. Veolia is responsible for phase 1B which entails the turnkey water treatment solution, including civil, mechanical and electrical work.
The new water treatment plant will be capable of producing 20 megalitres of potable water a day and addresses all facets of water treatment, from sedimentation and clarification to filtration and disinfection. "The water extracted from the Pongola River is highly turbid - with an extreme turbidity count of 280 NTU. We were required, therefore, to implement an adequate sedimentation process that will produce consistent quality water with acceptable turbidity levels that will meet SANS 241 standards," says Blake Cooley, Project Engineer, Veolia Water Technologies South Africa.
The process will reduce the turbidity level to a count of just 1NTU with the use of two Veolia clarifloctuators for the sedimentation process, followed by five bed rapid gravity filters with monolithic floor panels for the filtration stage. The result is 20 megalitres a day of potable water with regular backwash of the filters.
"Apart from the critical potable water supply, this project is also geared towards connecting districts and educating the rural communities on the importance of water conservation, and on the correct process to extract clean water from the source", adds Cooley.
In light of this commitment to the community, Veolia has also employed local engineers and local labour to work on the plant. In addition, Veolia will remain on site for twelve months after the project is complete to the engineers on proper maintenance techniques.
Phase 1A is being undertaken by Veolia's civil works partner Icon Construction. Phase 1A and 1B will be complete by April 2015 with running water delivered to the surrounding communities. Phase 2, commencing in 2017, will see the plant expand to 40 megalitres per day. Veolia has designed the plant with scalability to accommodate this future growth.