A proposed 180km water augmentation pipeline that will run from Gariep, South Africa’s largest dam, to the Mangaung Metro Municipality (MMM), presents the answer for the Municipality’s severe water supply crisis. The pipeline would be able to supply up to 130Mℓ potable water per day. The sooner the project commences, the lower the costs would be and the quicker the Municipality would be able to address people’s urgent need for potable water.

The MMM has witnessed serious water interruptions, water shortages and resulted restrictions over the past few years.

Over the past three years, the Municipality, as the official Water Services Authority, has proactively investigated several solutions to solve its imminent water crunch.

Several challenges faced by Bloem Water, the bulk water services provider, points towards the development of the multi-billion Rand Mangaung Gariep Water Augmentation Project (MGWAP), as the only viable solution to the problem.


The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), as the South African water regulator, compiled the Greater Bloemfontein Reconciliation Report to investigate the balance between water supply and demand for the Metro for the next 20 years.

The report highlighted the need for several short-term upgrades at Bloem Water’s existing Welbedacht and Knellpoort/Rustfontein systems. Over the long-term, the report identified three priority areas: high water losses in the Municipality’s water distribution system, the possible re-use of water by the Municipality, and lastly, water supply from Gariep Dam.

Tackling the issue of water losses, the MMM had to embark on an extensive Water Demand and Conservation Programme in the short-term. Since September 2011, the Municipality reduced water losses in the distribution system with an average of 11Mℓ per day annually. It also increased its internal bulk distribution capacity with the construction of the 35Mℓ Naval Hill reservoir, the 45Mℓ Longridge reservoir and an 8Mℓ reservoir in Botshabelo.

The Municipality is planning to address the re-use of water from the new North Eastern Waste Water Treatment Works near the Bloemspruit Air Force Base. This treatment works will provide the highest quality re-use water to drain into the Mockes Dam for use at the Maselspoort Water Treatment Works. This treatment works is being upgraded with state-of-the-art technology to ensure best quality drinking water to Bloemfontein.

Despite these interventions, water supply in the Metro remains under threat and the third priority area – securing additional water supply – is a costly, but inevitable necessity to ensure long-term sustainable water supply to the Metro.


Bloemfontein receives water from two sources: Bloem Water which currently supplies 70% of the city’s water; and the Municipality’s Maselspoort Water Treatment Works, which directly abstracts the remaining 30% from the Modder River.

The three main towns constituting the Metro are Bloemfontein, Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo. Their daily water consumption are respectively 145Mℓ, 20Mℓ and 30Mℓ. The Naledi Local Municipality will be incorporated with the Metro after the local government elections.

The Municipality serves approximately 230 000 households consisting of 720 000 users. In Bloemfontein, a higher population and extensive commercial activities, result in a consumption of almost three times that of Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo.

Assuming a population growth of only 1,2% per year, the water demand will increase with approximately 30% over the next 20 years.

This incremental growth in demand, coupled with ageing infrastructure and severe supply challenges stemming from the silted Welbedacht Dam in the Caledon River and the smaller Knellpoort and Rustfontein Dams in the Modder River, highlight the indisputable need for the Gariep bulk water augmentation project.

As it stands, the inhabitants of Mangaung Metro is bearing the brunt for the nett effect of the bulk water supply problems. Under the control of Bloem Water, water supply via the Caledon River and Welbedacht supply system have increased with an average of 16% per annum over the past three years. If something is not done soon, tariffs will increase even further.

Investors are hesitant to invest in the central- and south-eastern Free State economy if water is not secure.


The pre-feasibility by the Municipality shows that the Gariep pipeline project is by far the most cost-effective, and sustainable solution to address these challenges and that the Municipality is fully equipped with the technical capacity to execute the project.

The project needs to commence urgently due to an urgent water need and projected cost escalations. It will require significant lead-time for option analysis, environmental impact assessments, servitudes, electricity and land matters. The project costs would escalate with another R1 billion in five years, because of rising labour and material costs.

The Municipality registered the Gariep Project with National Treasury’s Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC) to initiate the project in accordance with its Municipal Services and Public-Private Partnership Guidelines. It also registered the water use license applications with the DWS.

The first phase of the Bankable Feasibility Study started in November 2015. The project is currently in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Water Use Licence Application (WULA) phase.

The completion of the first phase is intended for November 2016, when it will be submitted to the Metro Council for consideration.