Consultancy undertaking multiple WC projects

9th March 2012 By: Leandi Kolver - Creamer Media Deputy Editor

Consulting engineers and scientists SRK Consulting has been appointed by the West Coast district municipality (WCDM) to develop an integrated coastal management programme (ICMP) to determine the current state of the West Coast region’s coastal environment and identify strategies to deal with coastal management challenges.

This project, which is funded by the WCDM, will be undertaken in three phases in collaboration with the Bergrivier, Cedarberg, Matzikama, Saldanha Bay and Swartland local municipalities, says SRK Cape Town environmental consultant Scott Masson.

It will also identify the institutional structure and capacity needed by government to enable it to respond to existing management gaps, and the roles and responsibilities outlined in the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act.

Further, the ICMP will be used for the drafting of a by-law to enable effective control over activities that pose a threat to the sustainable use of coastal resources.

The first phase of the project will entail SRK conducting a status quo assessment of the coastal management situation. “This includes the assessment of illegal structures, sources of pollution and access points,” he says.

Further, relevant South African and international coastal management programmes, inventories, legislation and technologies, as well as municipal and provincial practices and procedures, will be evaluated. Available data and relevant information will also be accessed and a gap analysis undertaken.

In addition, SRK will evaluate the capacity of the WCDM and the five local municipalities to deal with coastal legislative requirements and will identify priority actions to deal with any shortcomings, says Masson.

Public participation started in Phase 1 with workshops held from January 30 to February 2 and the project will be advertised in the district’s local newspapers shortly.

The second phase will include the setting of the vision, mission, goals and objectives of the ICMP, as well as the development of strategies to address key themes, says Masson.

Phase 2 will also establish the roles and responsibilities of the different organs of State, as well as entail a cost-benefit analysis of priority actions, recommendations and implementations.

The establishment of a Munic-ipal Coast Committee will also be facilitated, he says.

During the final stage of the project, relevant management by-laws will be evaluated and a coastal management by-law that deals with priority issues will be drafted, states Masson.

Saldanha Fish-Meal Plant
Meanwhile, SRK Consulting will start providing consulting ser- vices for the recommissioning of a fish-meal plant in Saldanha Bay.

Fish exporter Premier Fishing, in a joint venture with food and allied services company Oceana Group’s Oceana Brands, wants to recommission a fish-meal plant that has been out of operation since 2008, says SRK Western Cape senior environmental consultant Sue Reuther.

“The companies wish to recom- mission the plant, as they now have sufficient fishing quotas and believe there is a demand for fish meal as animal feed,” she says.

The existing equipment and structures of the plant will be upgraded and reused as far as possible, while new equipment will also be installed.

Vessels will deliver small pelagic fish, like anchovies and pilchards, to the plant to be cooked and dried to produce fish meal and fish oil.

The plant is expected to be operational by 2013.

Cape Winelands Environmental Management Framework
SRK is about 95% done with the establishment of an environmental management framework (EMF) for the eastern portion of the Cape Winelands district municipality (CWDM), which includes the Witzenberg, Breede Valley and Langeberg local municipalities, says Western Cape principal environmental consultant Sharon Jones.

The project area lies within the Cape Floristic region, a threatened biodiversity hot spot, where flora and fauna species are often limited to small distribution ranges.

Simultaneously, agriculture, which is a major source of land transformation and a threat to biodiversity, is the economic mainstay of the area. “This, together with increasing urban and tourism developments, places increasing stress on the area’s water resources,” she says.

The area is subject to a variety of land-use pressures, which can create a challenging planning and decision-making environment for the State, the private sector and civil society, Jones explains.

The EMF will provide a basis from which environment-friendly and socially responsible development can be promoted.

The project’s status quo report was finalised in October last year, following extensive stakeholder and public comment periods. It provided an overview of the current state of the environment within the study area, along with a series of maps that spatially represent the information contained in the report, notes Jones.

The spatial data forms the basis of the geographic information system (GIS) tool, which has been produced to aid implementation of the EMF by both the CWDM and the other municipalities in the area, she explains.

The draft EMF was released for public comment last year. The comment period ended on January 20.

A final meeting has been held with the project steering committee and the EMF will be finalised for submission to the relevant Member of the Executive Council of the province soon.

“The next step in the process is for the CWDM to develop an implementation plan, which would include making the EMF and the GIS tool available to various groups of potential users, and to train municipal staff in the use of the EMF,” Jones says.

Groundwater Project
SRK has also investigated the use of groundwater resources to irrigate the sports fields and other grass areas at 15 newly built schools in the Western Cape, says SRK senior hydrogeologist Leon Groenewald.

Phase 1 of the project includes a feasibility study, together with desktop work and a hydrocensus, to establish whether sufficient groundwater is available.

SRK has recommended that 12 of the schools continue to the second phase, which consists of the drilling of a production borehole and conducting a pumping test to establish the sustainable yield of the borehole, after which recommendations regarding pumping rates and regimes will be made to the client, he says.

“To date, nine boreholes have been drilled and eight of these have sufficient water for irrigation. “The sustainable yields of the boreholes vary between 3 000 ℓ/h and 30 000 ℓ/h,” Groenewald says.

This study will result in schools using their own water supply for irrigation, instead of having to rely on municipal sources, which will, in turn, alleviate the pressure on dams to supply water to the Western Cape, he says.

Each school investigation takes about three months to complete and the company is awarded more schools on an ongoing basis.

Outlook Improving
SRK partner Chris Dalgliesh says trading conditions for the company were challenging for most of 2011, adding that it was difficult to pass price increases on to customers.

“However, towards the end of the year, the outlook started to improve as some suspended projects were brought back on stream,” he says.

He expects the number of infrastructure projects to increase during this year, but points out that it is unlikely that major greenfield projects in the industrial or manufacturing sector will be initiated, as the province becomes more firmly positioned in the service sector.

Further, Dalgliesh believes investment in renewable-energy resources will continue.

Meanwhile, SRK aims to secure its success by positioning itself as a service provider to large clients, such as power utility Eskom, oil and gas major Chevron and oil and gas group Shell.

“Interaction with other SRK offices, both internationally and in South Africa, is also a key strategy in ensuring that we maintain a steady stream of interesting and varied projects,” he says.

Further, the company also obtains work outside the West-ern Cape, particularly in the Northern Cape, and is looking further afield to countries like Angola, Mozambique and Namibia, he adds.