The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), as 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 the Municipality’s Welbedacht and Knellpoort/Rustfontein systems. Over the long-term, it prioritised high water losses in the Municipality’s water distribution system, the re-use of water in the current system, and water supply from the Gariep Dam.

As Water Services Authority, the Mangaung Metro Municipality (MMM) has embarked on an extensive Water Demand and Conservation Programme in the short-term and 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 addressed the re-use of water through the new North Eastern Waste Water Treatment Work near the Bloemspruit Air Force Base, yielding the highest quality water to drain into the Mockes Dam for reuse 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. Addressing long-term supply priorities, the Mangaung Gariep Water Augmentation Project (MGWAP) therefore needs to commence urgently. The project will require significant lead-time for option analysis, environmental impact assessments, servitudes, electricity and land matters.

The DWS requested the Municipality to evaluate three supply options from Gariep, including raw water supply to the Knellpoort or Rustfontein Dam, and the supply of potable water directly to Bloemfontein, which uses 70% of the Metro’s water. The latter proved to be the most viable. This solution provides the additional benefit of water supply to the rural towns between the Gariep Dam and Bloemfontein.

Subsequently, 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. The water use license applications have been registered with Department of Water and Sanitation.

The first phase of the Bankable Feasibility Study started at the end of 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 August 2016, when it will be submitted to the Metro Council for consideration.


The Mangaung Gariep Water Augmentation Project (MGWAP) will assist the MMM to diversify its access to water resources, optimise the cost of water, and establish operational efficiencies.

There are a number of challenges with the current system in Bloemfontein, which include:

  • The current demand exceeds the yield of the Caledon- and Modder Rivers’ supply systems.
  • The MMM experiences severe shortages during hot summer months.
  • This is due to a 95% loss in the storage capacity of the silted Welbedacht dam.
  • Unfortunately, Bloemfontein does not have reserve storage to supply water during dry seasons, or normal no-rain periods.
  • Off-channel storage in the Knellpoort dam is required to compensate for this storage loss.
  • The water supplied via the current system is expensive to consumers because of additional energy costs to transfer water from the Caledon System to the MMM, and specifically to the metropolitan areas. It is anticipated, based on historical trends, that this cost will likely escalate at a minimum of 14% per annum over the next three years.
  • The multiple open channel transfers result in significant water losses due to evaporation, seepage, drainage and technical water losses at the works of each transfer point.
  • The Caledon-/Modder River system is complex and difficult and costly to manage.

This proposed Mangaung Gariep Water Augmentation (MGWAP) project will constitute the following:

  • The establishment of a ±180km buried water pipeline between the Gariep Dam wall and the Longridge Reservoir Complex in the metropolitan area of the MMM.
  • This component of the project will also entail the construction of pumping stations, a water storage facility and Water Treatment Works.
  • Renewable energy facilities to off-set long-term operational costs.
  • A series of pipelines that will link the Bloemspruit Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW), the Sterkwater WWTW and the North East WWTW to the Mockes Dam.
  • The temporary storage of the water in the Mockes Dam.
  • An increase in the abstraction into the Maselspoort WTW.

In addition, the project will make provision for draw-off points for towns in the southern Free State. These towns would have the opportunity to sign an agreement with the MMM to extract water from the Gariep pipeline. This will augment their existing water sources, as current bulk supply is under pressure.

The municipalities will have to develop their own pipeline from the draw-off point to the towns.

The following towns are being investigated: Gariepdam, Bethulie, Springfontein, Philippolis, Trompsburg, Edenburg, Reddersburg, Bethani, Jagersfontein, Fauresmith, Norvalspont, Petrusburg, Soutpan and Smithfield.

The study area lies within the following geographic boundaries:

  • The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality (Free State)
  • The Xhariep District Municipality (Free State)
  • The Kopanong Local Municipality (Free State)
  • The Joe Gqabi District Municipality (Eastern Cape)
  • Gariep Local Municipality (Eastern Cape)

The project will linearly investigate these areas for a pipeline corridor, which is proposed to be 1km wide.

The MMM only requires a servitude of approximately 36m, however, access roads and construction areas will take up 1km within the corridor. The servitude will be negotiated with the respective landowners.

Project Map

Click to enlarge