Jul 06, 2012
New window of opportunity opening for development of water engineersBack
Construction|Engineering|Expertise|SECURITY|Africa|Concrete|Environment|Resources|Security|Water|Africa|France|South Africa|United States|ZAR|Security|Billion-rand Bulk Water Infrastructure|Security|Water Infrastructure|Water Science And Infrastructure|Danie Badenhorst|Dhesigen Naidoo|Infrastructure|Lani Van Vuuren|Power|Security|Theo Van Robbroeck|Water
© Reuse this
He was echoing the call made by renowned South African water engineer and honorary president of the International Commission on Large Dams (Icold) Dr Theo van Robbroeck at the launch of a history book on South Africa’s large dams.
“The Department of Water Affairs was known for training young engineers and we were given experience in the construction of dams, which led to a flood of young engineers, some of whom were also given the opportunity to study in France and the US to gain knowledge of concrete dams,” Van Robbroeck said of his time as a young water engineer.
He highlighted the importance of involvement by the department in facilitating training and development, and encouraged the reintroduction of water boards as effective water management and skills development mechanisms.
“Recruitment from other countries was also done, including refugees from the Eastern European countries, which secured invalu- able expertise for the country.”
“Expertise from outside South Africa is very important,” said Naidoo, highlighting that the need for water security meant the country had to engage its youth and develop its water science and infrastructure.
This new body of skills was required not only to operate and maintain the country’s multi- billion-rand bulk water infrastructure, but also to create alternative water supplies as potential dam sites became increasingly scarce and expensive to develop, he said.
“Until we can find a reliable alternative to dams as a way to store water in South Africa, it is up to the new generation of dam builders to devise and implement schemes to manage our water resources sustainably,” writes historian and Water Wheel editor Lani van Vuuren.
Her book, In the footsteps of giants, provides a succinct history of South Africa’s large dams and their construction, including an overview of their importance in South Africa’s development.
“In the footsteps of giants is quite correct,” said Van Robbroeck at the event and named several prominent South African water engineers who had built the water-scarce country’s critical network of dams and water-transfer schemes.
“Rivers provide South Africa’s only large-scale resources of fresh water and the country had no choice but to construct storage dams to provide a reliable supply of water for various purposes. South African dam builders have mastered the art and science of manipulating water flows to allow the country to unlock its economic potential,” writes Van Vuuren.
“The development of large infrastructure remains essential for human survival and economic development, especially in South Africa with its limited water resources and erratic climate. Dams allow us to develop our economy, grow our food, generate electricity and power our industries,” she highlights.
“Almost all of South Africa’s available water resources are currently being tapped, with overallocation of resources occurring in many of the country’s catchments. Population growth is placing further strain on limited resources, and the poor quality of wastewater discharges is driving our water sector into a critical state,” notes Van Vuuren.
“A recurring theme throughout the world is the shortage of technical water engineering skills,” noted South African National Committee on Large Dams (Sancold) chairperson and master dam engineer Danie Badenhorst at the launch.
Badenhorst lauded the book for encouraging awareness and understanding of the importance of water expertise and dams for South Africa.
Further, Sancold offered scholarships for postgraduate studies, worked closely with the WRC and provided continuous professional development credits for engineers who attended its technical events, he added.
“There is an opportunity for South Africa to offer water sector training to Africa, owing to a good knowledge of the African environment, which can also help to attract some of the brightest water engineers in the world. For example, South Africa’s water sector currently helps to advise the 22 fellow African Icold member States on matters of common interest.
“In the future, we can build on the work of our forebears. The challenges are dif- ferent but can be overcome by good colla- boration between organisations and people involved in the water sector,” concluded Badenhorst.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Construction News
Updated 2 hours 7 minutes ago South Africa’s Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has emphasised the role of the private sector in delivering the 51 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (Pida) projects, collectively valued at $68-billion, being prioritised for implementation by 2020....
Updated 3 hours ago A roads project on the N4 that took 42 months to complete instead of 30, had cost Esor dearly, said CEO Wessel van Zyl on Thursday as he unveiled the construction group’s financial results for the six months ended August 31 in Johannesburg. The total loss over the...
Updated 6 hours ago Trade union Solidarity, which has 7 000 members working at Eskom, is urging the State-owned utility to abandon its voluntary-severance offer to employees and focus instead on rebuilding staff morale as part of a broader effort to improve the currently dire outlook...
Updated 1 hour 34 minutes ago The Central Energy Fund (CEF) has backtracked on its decision to appoint Tshepo Kgadima as a director and chairperson of national oil company PetroSA following the public “controversy” dogging the new appointee. Nonhlanhla Jiyane had now been appointed as interim...
Updated 2 hours 10 minutes ago South Africa’s Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has emphasised the role of the private sector in delivering the 51 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (Pida) projects, collectively valued at $68-billion, being prioritised for implementation by 2020....
Updated 2 hours 24 minutes ago This year, 82 companies met the JSE’s Socially Responsible Index (SRI) requirements relating to environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies and management practices, compared with only 72 companies in 2013, as companies become more aware of how they...
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
This Week's Magazine
JSE-listed real estate investment trust (REIT) Rebosis Property Fund achieved a distribution growth of 8.1% to 99.45c per linked unit in the financial year ended August 31, despite volatile market conditions.
A low-cost, inflatable incubator won this year’s international James Dyson design award, which aims to encourage and inspire the next generation of design engineers.
The World Bank released its ‘Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency’ report last month and ranked South Africa 43 out of 189 global economies for its ease of doing business, with Singapore topping the rankings.
Air Products South Africa officially launched its R300-million Eastern Cape air- separation unit (ASU), at its new manufacturing facility in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), earlier this month. It is the second facility that Air Products launched in South...
BMW South Africa (SA) has signed a power purchasing agreement with energy company Bio2Watt. The offtake partnership will bring renewable energy to the carmaker’s Rosslyn plant, north of Pretoria.