Launch of Brandvlei Water Scheme, Holsloot Feeder Canal Raising Project.
Speech by Minister Anton Bredell
10 February 2023
- Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzu Mchunu,
- Mayor of the Breede Valley Municipality, Antoinette Steyn,
- CEO of the Central Breede Water Users Association, Louis Bruwer,
- Programme Director, Dr Phillips,
- Senior officials,
- Members of the press,
- Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be here with you today. In South Africa we have more than enough challenges at the moment, so it makes it even more special to celebrate a success story. The Brandvlei Canal project has a long history, but it is successfully completed now.
Minister Senzo Mchunu, it is a pleasure to have you here today, and thank you for your personal interest in this project. Also thank you to the officials from your Department of water and Sanitation who worked hard to make this a reality.
This project is a good example of investing a relatively small amount of money to get much larger benefits. In this case, R20 million was spent to raise the 4km long canal wall with 30cm. This allows for an additional 33 million cubic meter water storage in the Brandvlei Dam. This will improve agricultural water security downstream, as well as allow for an additional 4400ha of irrigation agriculture.
If we can realize this agricultural growth, it will also benefit the economies of the surrounding towns, creating jobs throughout the value chain, and help us to fight poverty.
This water infrastructure is also crucial in the context of climate change. The Western Cape is expected to become hotter and drier, with more extreme flooding and droughts as we move into the future. Dams, boreholes, water purification plants, wastewater plants and water pipe networks are our basic tools to face climate change.
The Western Cape is also a province with a growing population. Last year we saw 125 000 new residents. This trend is expected to continue, so we have to plan ahead in order to ensure we can provide basic services, such as water and sewage, to our people.
Water infrastructure is expensive, and the financial models are based on 10, 20 or 30 year plans. These timeframes are much longer than the political terms for our mayors and provincial and national political leaders. I am asking political leaders to step up and also consider the long term prosperity of our people.
If we do not invest in basic infrastructure, or maintain it properly, we only have to look at Eskom to see what the results will be. Eskom also affects our water management directly. With high levels of load shedding, we see water infrastructure struggling to keep functioning, and most municipalities, also large ones, struggle as soon as we have stage4 load shedding.
As an emergency step, the Western Cape Government is using R88 million from its contingency funds to procure backup diesel generators for all our local as well as district municipalities. This is to ensure that drinking water and sewage is still functioning during load shedding. This is an expensive short-term solution, but one we deemed necessary while we work towards long term and more sustainable solutions.
One such long term project is the Western Cape’s Water Resilience Plan, where the Department of Local Government work with municipalities to explore ways to improve their water security.
My Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning will also be hosting a Water Indaba in a few weeks’ time, where we will host stakeholders and water specialists to help us plan for the future.
At the same time, we are monitoring dam levels in the province, and I am concerned as the average Western Cape dam level is already approaching 50%. I am urging people to start saving water sooner than later. It is much better to save water now than to have to implement drastic measures such as we had to do in 2017/18 when Cape Town almost ran out of water.
And this brings me back to the importance of water infrastructure. Minister Senzo Mchunu, this Brandvlei Canal Project is a success story. We need more success stories in South Africa. Let us work together and make a success story of the Clanwilliam dam. It is a much larger project with a projected cost of R3.5 billion. It will provide water security to the Lower Olifants River farmer community and allow for an additional 6000 hectares of irrigation farming to be developed. It will allow the entire region to grow economically, create jobs and fight poverty.
I conclude: Thank you to all the role players who made today possible. Let us be hopeful for a good winter rain season. But let us also conserve and save water now, as it will always be a precious resource for us.
Spokesperson for Minister Anton Bredell
Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning
079 694 3085