Blossoms water project: a lifeline for Oudtshoorn and rural communities

Oudtshoorn, 05 October 2023 – The Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality is thrilled to announce the grand opening of the Blossoms Water Project on 04 October 2023.

This highly anticipated project, which was completed in August 2023, marks a significant achievement in the region’s efforts to improve water accessibility. The official opening ceremony was graced by distinguished guests who were personally invited by the Executive Mayor of the Greater Oudtshoorn, Alderman Chris Macpherson. In his welcoming address, Mayor Macpherson expressed profound gratitude to all attendees, both organizations and individuals, for their unwavering support and dedication to addressing the critical issue of water availability in the Greater Oudtshoorn area.

Borehole

During his address at the opening event, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, MEC Anton Bredell, expressed his honour to be a part of the official opening of the Blossoms Emergency Water Project. Minister Bredell took a moment to reflect on the challenging drought experienced in 2017, highlighting the critical importance of ensuring and safeguarding reliable and sustainable access to water resources. He aptly stated, ” To promise a dignified life for people you need to give them water.”

Chandelier reservoir with pipeline route to town

Minister Bredell went on to commend the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality and Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) for their exceptional dedication to the development and implementation of the Blossoms Emergency Water Project. He acknowledged that their efforts have opened up discussions about the enhanced quality of water, recognizing the project as a significant step forward in this regard.

Chris Swart

PROJECT OVERVIEW:

Mr Chris Swart, Senior Manager: Water and Sewerage – Technical Services presented an overview of the Blossoms Emergency Water Project at the opening in which he shared that in Oudtshoorn and its surrounding rural areas, a transformative project is about to come to life. After years of planning and construction, the Blossoms Water Project is on the brink of delivering a precious resource that will change lives.

Main borehole and two secondary boreholes as well as the Blossoms pumping station and reservoir

For years, Oudtshoorn and its rural areas have grappled with water shortages and drought that have affected daily life, agriculture, and economic prospects. The Blossoms Water Project promises to turn the tide, offering hope and a sustainable solution.

Map of the pipeline which stretches over 22km

Swart went on to provide a comprehensive overview, highlighting that from the beginning of 2019 through 2020, the project focused on meticulous planning and design, leading up to the acquisition of a substantial amount of pipe material required for the pipeline. The following year, from 2020 to 2021, marked the installation of the initial 6 kilometres of the pipeline. During this period, the project also saw the procurement of all essential mechanical equipment. Finally, from 2021 to 2023, the project was diligently carried forward, reaching completion with the remaining pipeline installation and the construction of essential mechanical equipment. This structured timeline and strategic allocation of resources highlight the dedication and meticulous planning that have gone into ensuring the success of the Blossoms Emergency Water Project.

Mayor Chris Macpherson

The heart of this project lies in a 22-kilometer pipeline that starts at the main borehole on the Kleinfontein Farm in the Blossoms area from where it is pumped over 1,5km to a booster pump station and reservoir. Water from the secondary boreholes is also pumped to the booster pump station and reservoir.  From this reservoir, water is pumped at 48l per second to the main reservoir 2,5km away on the farm, Chandelier. From this reservoir, water will gravitate along a pipeline of 17km, and cross the Olifants River via the old road bridge just outside Oudtshoorn. There the water is divided with some of the supply going to the Rural Water Scheme and the rest to the East Reservoir near the Correctional Services grounds to augment the water supply to the town.

Minister Anton Bredell

Swart also extended his heartfelt gratitude to the stakeholders, affectionately referred to as “the Team,” who played an indispensable role in the resounding success of this transformative project. Among these dedicated collaborators, he recognized Umvoto, Lyners (Consulting Engineers), SES Environmentalists, Safe Working Practice (SWP), De Jager Loodgieters, Hidrotech (Mechanical Contractors), and NRB.

The Blossoms Water Project will supply 48l per second of water to Oudtshoorn.

Infront: FLTR: Minister Anton Bredell, Executive Mayor Chris Macpherson
2nd Row FLTR: Justin Lesch (Director: Technical Services), David McGibbon (Umvoto: Geohydrologist), Manuel Koen (Safe Working Practice: Health and Safety Agent), Walter Hendricks (Municipal Manager: Oudtshoorn), Cllr Johan Fourie
3rd Row FLTR): Chris Swart (Snr Manager: Water and Sewerage), Phillip van Jaarsveld (Resident Engineer: Lyners), Sarel Esterhuizen (De Jager Loodgieters), Martin Le Roux (Lyners) Hennie De Jager (Owner of De Jager Loodgieters)
Insert: Deputy Mayor Gert van Niekerk (Garden Route District Municipality)

TIMELINE AND FUNDING:

The Blossoms Water Project was given the green light in 2018, with funding coming in three crucial phases over the years. Construction commenced in 2020, and the final touches were put in place in 2022/23, culminating in a total cost for the drought project of approximately R100 million.

Front Row FLTR: Minister Anton Bredell, Executive Mayor Chris Macpherson
2nd Row FLTR: Justin Lesch (Director: Technical Services), Cllr James Du Preez, Chris Swart (Snr Manager: Water and Sewerage), Cllr Christine Muller, Cllr Veronica Micheals, Walter Hendricks (Municipal Manager: Oudtshoorn), Cllr Johan Fourie, Speaker Johan Allers

A grant of R97.15 million from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the Municipal Disaster Relief Grant was allocated to various aspects of this project. This funding was utilized for three main purposes:

  1. Design of the pipeline
  2. Procurement of most of the materials required for the pipeline and boreholes
  3. Completion of the initial approximately 6 kilometres of the pipeline.

The funding was divided into four separate allocations:

  1. R30 million was provided as part of DWS’s drought relief efforts during the 2019/20 financial year.
  2. An additional R20 million was made available through the Water Services Infrastructure Grant (WSIG) from DWS for the 2020/2021 financial year.
  3. R47.15 million was made available in the 2021-2023 financial years from the Municipal Disaster Relief Grant
  4. and a final amount of R 3,85 Million was funded by Oudtshoorn Municipality itself. 

The construction work started on the pipeline in 2020 with 5km being completed. The remainder of the pipeline was completed during 2022/23 and all pump stations and reservoirs were built, and installations completed.

Work on the final phase of a drought project to bring water from deep boreholes near Blossoms to Oudtshoorn started in full swing again in March 2022 after it was delayed by a shortage of funds. 

CHALLENGES FACED:

The Blossoms Water Project encountered formidable challenges, primarily stemming from funding constraints, the intricacies of the pipeline route, and the unresolved power supply issue from ESKOM, all of which demanded careful consideration and adaptability throughout its duration.

Furthermore, the municipality faced difficulties accessing specific areas and collaborating with local farmers. However, diligent negotiations led to an agreement with the farmers, resolving these access and cooperation issues.

Despite these obstacles, the unwavering dedication of the project team has propelled the Blossoms Water Project to the brink of completion. Like any ambitious endeavour, it has faced its share of challenges, but the resolute commitment of all involved stands as a testament to their determination to deliver a sustainable solution for the community.

IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY:

With the completed Blossoms Water Project, the future is looking brighter for Oudtshoorn and its rural communities. This project promises to supply a staggering 4,150kl of water to Oudtshoorn and surrounding rural areas, ensuring more secure and prosperous water security. 

THE FINAL TOUCH:

As we stand on the threshold of transformation, there is one last vital piece of the puzzle: the installation of power lines by Eskom. Once this is completed, the Blossoms Water Project will be fully operational, bringing fresh hope and vitality to our community and areas as far as Calitzdorp. 

“The Blossoms Water Project is indeed a lifeline for Oudtshoorn and its rural communities, representing a significant step towards addressing the critical issue of water accessibility in the region,” said Mayor Chirs Macpherson.

Photo 1 (the team): Infront: FLTR: Minister Anton Bredell, Executive Mayor Chris Macpherson

2nd Row FLTR: Justin Lesch (Director: Technical Services), David McGibbon (Umvoto: Geohydrologist), Manuel Koen (Safe Working Practice: Health and Safety Agent), Walter Hendricks (Municipal Manager: Oudtshoorn), Cllr Johan Fourie

3rd Row FLTR): Chris Swart (Snr Manager: Water and Sewerage), Phillip van Jaarsveld (Resident Engineer: Lyners), Sarel Esterhuizen (De Jager Loodgieters), Martin Le Roux (Lyners) Hennie De Jager (Owner of De Jager Loodgieters)

Insert: Deputy Mayor Gert van Niekerk (Garden Route District Municipality)

 

Photo 2: Front Row FLTR: Minister Anton Bredell, Executive Mayor Chris Macpherson

2nd Row FLTR: Justin Lesch (Director: Technical Services), Cllr James Du Preez, Chris Swart (Snr Manager: Water and Sewerage), Cllr Christine Muller, Cllr Veronica Micheals, Walter Hendricks (Municipal Manager: Oudtshoorn), Cllr Johan Fourie, Speaker Johan Allers

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