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Joe Gqabi District Municipality – Spring Water Protection Programme

Joe Gqabi District Municipality – Spring Water Protection Programme

The Mvula Trust was appointed by the Joe Gqabi District Municipality (JGDM) as the Implementing Agent (IA) of the Springs Water Protection Programme. This programme covers the rural areas of Elundini and Senqu Local Municipalities. The Springs Water Protection Programme was funded by Municipal Water Infrastructure Grant (MWIG). The estimated duration of the programme was approximately 12 months (August 2013 to July 2014).

Generally, the programme addresses the water services backlog, improvement of service levels, and, in general, contributing to sustainable development. Activities include supporting strategic policy development, as well as water services provision to rural communities in Elundini and Senqu Local Municipalities.

The overall objective of the programme is to improve the quality of life (including health & hygiene) and contribute to poverty eradication in poor rural communities in South Africa by providing basic water services. Other objectives of the programme are to ensure the employment of local workers, eradicate poverty, capacitate and empower emerging contractors, provide opportunity to local suppliers (material supply of bricks, sand, cement, quarries etc.) and most importantly, transfer of long-term skills to local workers.

The Mvula Trust’s approach was to involve Ward Councilors in identifying potential springs in their areas and thereafter, The Mvula Trust’s technical personnel would make arrangements to inspect the springs to establish the supply and quality of water of each spring. The supply refers to perennial or intermittent and spring yield. Perennial springs drain extensive aquifers, whereas intermittent springs discharge only during portions of the year when sufficient groundwater is recharged to maintain flow. Generally, water from a spring as a source is pure and can be piped to storage and distribution points but it may be easily contaminated compared to water from properly constructed and maintained wells. Therefore, The Mvula Trust strives to ensure that care is always taken to check the true source of the spring water, as some apparent springs may not be related to aquifers but to possible polluted sources which have seeped or flowed into the ground a short distance away. Potential springs to be considered for protection were selected based on these characteristics and were found to be suitable for human consumption.

The Mvula Trust appointed a total of 21 contractors through a competitive tender process but preference was given to women and local emerging contractors. Before construction commenced, The Mvula Trust trained all the contractors on construction on spring protection.

The structures of spring catchments were constructed using simple and practical methods. This mainly depends on the topographical situation, the nature of the ground (including the aquifer) and the type and characteristics of the source itself. Catchment structures should never interfere with the natural conditions and the flow of the spring, as any such disturbances could mean the alteration or even the disappearance of the spring’s yield, as water may try to find another route.

Protection against the spring’s pollution from any source, after construction, and when appropriate connections have been made to convey the water to storage or distribution facilities should always be provided. The spring boxes or structures should be sealed off or covered. The free flow of the water away from the spring must always be guaranteed. It is important that the design and the direction of construction works to build appropriate spring boxes be the responsibility of experienced technical personnel.

In order to protect contaminants from entering the spring, well and the aquifer through the water point itself, several specific measures were applied:

  • Two spring boxes made up of a 110mm wall of sock/clay bricks (varies in sizes) were plastered inside and outside; an HDPE pipe to a tap stand and a fence.
  • Box 1 consists of crushed stones which are greater and not smaller than 20mm for filtration purposes, brick-force on every second layer, it is plastered inside and outside, with a waterproof membrane on the inside wall.
  • Box 2 contains filtered water from Box 1, inlet pipe, scour, overflow and outlet pipe.
  • HDPE pipes (size and class varies).
  • Construction of standpipe(s).

If the area around a spring intake is unstable or exposed to erosion, gabions or dry stone masonry can be used to stabilise the area. A fence is used to protect animals from damaging spring boxes, taps and ultimately contaminating water.


Customer Impact Tick where applicable General Remarks
  1. Increased reliability of supply
? The infrastructure of the spring protection is fully functional but there were some cases where the spring water was blocked and not coming out of the standpipes. In such cases, the relevant contractors were called to rectify the problem.
  1. Increased quality of supply
? In most cases, the number of customers served remains the same but in some cases it has increased because of the reliable supply of clean water from the protected springs.The flow rates have not necessarily increased.
  1. Increased drinking water quality
? Most springs were already in use and tests were made available to the WSA. The necessary arrangements for chlorination by JGDM are in progress.
  1. Increased volume of supply
? The volume of water supply remained the same as the same springs are still being used.
  1. Increased environmental protection
? Protection of springs and the infrastructure have enormously improved environmental protection.

Posted on

February 5, 2016