South African growth calls for large new bulk water infrastructure

17 July 2019
Integrated infrastructure delivery company AECOM has leading expertise in water resources planning and modelling, large dams, hydropower development, water and wastewater treatment, water conveyance and distribution, stormwater management, and water resilience. This stands it in good stead to avail itself of the opportunities presented by the National Water and Sanitation Masterplan.
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Significant growth in this sector can be expected due to the current backlog of sufficient water infrastructure for a burgeoning population, as well as for increasing urbanisation and industrial development, according to AECOM water business line director Werner Comrie. In addition, there is serious ageing of existing infrastructure, which requires maintenance, refurbishment, or replacing. Water security is at risk, and this requires adequate project planning and prioritisation towards implementation and intervention.

Commenting on the current state of the civil engineering industry in South Africa, Comrie admits that “it is the toughest it has been in decades.” This is due to limited spending by government, and also the private sector, on large and capital infrastructure projects. “We have seen the impact on the construction industry, and this is symptomatic of the wider civil engineering consultancy environment as well.”

However, the infrastructure backlog continues apace. “Funding, accelerated decision-making, improved procurement processes, and quality engineering are required for this to be addressed successfully. If all the national- and masterplanning that has been carried out is programmed for execution, there will be a lot to do.”

“We remain positive that this will be the case, and are pleased to see that infrastructure development is being prioritised as a primary driver of job creation and economic growth, where engineers can continue to play their primary role in the general wellbeing of society,” Comrie highlights.

AECOM is able to add considerable value to this sector in the way that it manages deliverables, being more innovative in design and project delivery processes, using advanced digital technology, and creating internal leverage, with improved skills development and better integration and systems.

“We also manage staff numbers to retain critical expertise and capacity, but outsource some specialist skills on an as-needed basis. We seek partners and clients that recognise the value we bring, and that we can have a long-standing relationship with.”

An example of AECOM’s success to date in this critical sector is its involvement with the City of Tshwane as Owner’s Engineer for the Temba Water Treatment Works in Soshanguve. “This project is now in the commissioning phase, and will make a major contribution in improving the quality of drinking water in the far northern part of the city,” Comrie concludes.


Notes to the editor

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Lara Lombard

Communications & Marketing Officer, EMIA, Africa

Phone: (012) 421 3832

Email: lara [dot] lombard [at] aecom [dot] com


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