As part of her oversight visits to various infrastructure projects, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille visited the Clanwilliam dam and irrigation scheme upgrade project, in the Western Cape, on August 31, to gain insight into delays affecting the project.
Work on the dam has not yet started but other support infrastructure works have been completed, such as the construction of roads.
De Lille says this project is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the country.
“The reason for my visit was to engage the teams on site to hear first-hand what the delays are and how we can work closer with them to deal with the delays and get the project following an expedited path,” says De Lille.
Over the past few weeks, she has been visiting various infrastructure projects across the country which were gazetted as Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) on July 24, 2020, in line with the Infrastructure Development Act.
The Clanwilliam dam is part of the Olifants River Water Resources Project, valued at about R4-billion.
The stakeholders in this project include the implementing department the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), as well as the Lower Olifants River Water User Association; the Cederberg, Matzikama and West Coast municipalities; the Western Cape provincial government; the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and power utility Eskom.
According to the feasibility study, the dam was originally built in 1935 and the sandstone foundation is fractured. There has also been concrete deterioration over time.
These aspects are compromising the safety of the foundations and the technical solutions being considered include the introduction of anchors on the existing concrete apron and deeper foundations to suitable bedrock.
Close to two decades ago, dam safety investigations identified the need for remedial work to the foundation of the existing dam. The identified remedial works provided an opportunity to further raise the dam wall, thereby increasing dam capacity.
The project entails raising the dam wall by 13 m, while the feasibility study also found that the dam needs to be strengthened.
The objective of the project is to increase the yield of the dam by about 70-million cubic meters a year, to augment the water supplies to the Olifants river irrigation scheme situated in the north-western part of the Western Cape, as well as to assist in the development of resource-poor farmers.
Further, the remedial work will also improve the safety of the dam. This would involve major construction works.
Success in raising of the Clanwilliam dam, the second phase of the project, involves the use of the additional yield of water to supply the ecological water requirements, giving existing water users a more assured supply.
Also the raising of the dam will enable use of the additional water for new irrigation purposes by emerging farmers, and provide future growth of domestic and industrial water supply, taking water losses into account.
The Olifants River Water Resources Project also includes the realignment of the N7 national route, work which was completed by Sanral in 2017.
Various other road-related works have been completed and plans are in place for other road-related works still to be completed by the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works.
The project also includes upgrading and expansion of the conveyance network downstream of Bulshoek dam by the DWS.
The project implementation is at 12% completion which includes site establishment including access roads, support infrastructure/upgrades to the N7, acquisition of land, design administration and project communication.