BERG WATER PROJECT (BWP)

The scheme involves the abstraction of winter water from the Berg River, once the ecological water requirements of the river and the estuary have been met. The scheme comprises a weir and abstraction works with a pump station on the Berg River, with a 6.3-km long pipeline to the Voëlvlei Dam. On 18 May 2017, the Minister of Water and Sanitation directed TCTA to fund and implement the project as part of the Western Cape Water Supply System amid a drought. The urgent need for augmenting the system became evident with the system’s inability to cope with the drought.

The project will increase the supply from Voëlvlei Dam by 23 million m3 per annum in the medium to long term. The TCTA Board approved an interim Project Charter on 28 October 2017 and water delivery is expected by June 2021. ​The project comprises of the Berg River Dam and a Supplement Scheme close to Franschhoek in the Western Cape. The project increases the yield of the Western Cape Water Supply System by 81 Mm3/a from 437 Mm3/a to 523 Mm3/a, an increase of 18%. The BWP was successfully completed within time and budget and is currently operational, delivering water as planned to the City of Cape Town.

The Berg Water Project in Franschhoek augments the supply of water to the City of Cape Town. President Kgalema Motlanthe officially inaugurated it in March 2009.

Funding

The project was funded through loans from local and foreign funders. The repayments are made from the revenue streams the City of Cape Town generates from the sale of bulk raw water. The short-term working capital requirements are funded through the commercial paper programme, which carries an authorised amount of R450 million for overnight to five-year funding. The project has an excellent long-term credit rating of AA+(zaf) by Fitch Ratings.

The net project debt is expected to be repaid by 2028. Revenues from bulk raw water sales to the City of Cape Town service this debt. The Berg Water capital charge is reviewed annually ensuring that sufficient revenues are generated to fully service the debt by 2028.

Socio-economic objectives

During the construction period, TCTA implemented the Franschhoek First Policy to maximise the socio-economic project benefits of employment, training and procurement opportunities for the local community. At the conclusion of the project, all targets were exceeded. An exit strategy was implemented to pre-empt possible latent negative social impacts and to leverage the positive project benefits beyond the construction phase into the operational phase. The range of initiatives and projects that were implemented as part of the exit strategy included:

  • Appreciative inquiry

  • Holistic health and well-being

  • Training

  • Handover of the employment skills database to the municipality

  • Handover of construction housing

  • Sustainable Utilisation Plan

 

TCTA donated the construction housing free of charge to the local municipality for the benefit of the community. TCTA designed an innovative mechanism where as much income as possible is generated from the sale of the houses, providing funds for further investment in community housing. This is a revolving fund, utilizing income generated from each housing project to finance subsequent projects. The Stellenbosch Municipality is responsible for implementation of the governing agreement that facilitates purchasing of the houses by the local community and access to benefits from the Housing Benefits Fund.

 

Environmental

 

The BWP is the first dam in the world that has complied fully with the World Commission on Dams Guidelines and with the requirements of the ecological reserve, and is heralded as an international best-practice example in engineering design and operation. It is an exceptional demonstration of integrated project development with an explicit sustainable development strategy in project implementation. Another unique feature of the BWP is the fact that it is the first large dam in the world where provision has been made for flood releases purely as an environmental requirement.

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