Solving Southern Africa's water crisis with gravity-driven pipelines
By: Trans Africa Water Alliance
Intrinsic to the plan is that each project will pay for itself over a number of years.
TAWA comprises civil engineers, government partners and other relevant role players.
The proposed major pipelines are the line from a new dam on the Orange River at Vioolsdrif to the Cape Town Metro; the line from Vioolsdrif to Swakopmund, Namibia; a line from the Kunene River to outside Windhoek; and a fourth line from the Zambezi River to Eastern Botswana and South Africa.
Plans and cost estimates for four smaller pipelines have also been prepared and proposed to various water authorities.
Bruinette and his team believe these gravity lines will solve the bulk of water problems in Southern Africa. The main constraining factor for water authorities is the funding required for these projects.
TAWA has responded by actively seeking funders for these long term plans.
Less cost than desalination
According to Bruinette, the most urgent project is the construction of a first phase Vioolsdrif Dam on the Orange River, and then to build a gravity-driven water delivery pipeline to the existing Voelvlei Dam, which currently supplies water to the Cape Town Metro water system.
This is so that the Western Cape no longer has to rely only on rainfall and be at the mercy of intermittent, catastrophic droughts.
The cost of the project will vary from US$2.5 billion to $4,5-billion depending on whether the Cape Town water supply quantity is expanded by 15% or to 50%.
The proposed cost is below US$1 per cubic meter which is a fraction of the cost of desalinated water and can be delivered over four years from start of the project to completion.
Later phases include plans to similarly bring water to Swakopmund in Namibia, as well as other drought stricken areas of Botswana and South Africa.
"This solution is not a fantastic pipe-dream. LHWP has shown over more than 30 years that a gravity-driven water supply is a practical and economic way of solving the problem," Dr Bruinette said.
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Editorial contact: Kerry Botha