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Overstrand Municipality has awarded a 15-year operations and maintenance (O&M) contract to Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies South Africa to manage the municipality’s extensive water and wastewater infrastructure network.

Overstrand Municipality has nine water and six wastewater treatment plants with a combined capacity of 59 Mℓ/day and 18 Mℓ/day, respectively. These, together with the municipality’s five surface water sources, one river abstraction plant, 17 boreholes, three springs, 55 water and wastewater pump stations, 44 reservoirs, and 123 km of bulk water and wastewater pipelines must be managed and maintained on a daily basis.

As of December 2018, Veolia is managing the day-to-day operations of this extensive network of infrastructure in what is the largest O&M contract of its kind in South Africa in terms of the equipment and number of facilities to be maintained.

With 15 different sites stretched over a distance of 250 km, Veolia has a difficult task to manage. A central management team has been established in Hermanus to manage and coordinate all aspects of operation, including the three maintenance teams that are available to assist and maintain the municipality’s infrastructure on a daily basis.

Why O&M?

“Having Veolia manage our water and wastewater systems offers many benefits to the municipality – particularly having the full-time involvement of focused, skilled technical engineers who can train and upskill our existing process staff as well as improve the efficiency of treatment processes and maintenance procedures,” says Hanré Blignaut, deputy director: Engineering Planning, Overstrand Municipality.

He also cites improved energy efficiency, long-term asset preservation, value for money, and the development of small local subcontractors and creation of additional jobs as beneficial factors of an O&M contract such as this.

According to Coenie Loubser, operations manager: Overstrand, Veolia, the company is providing an operations manager and maintenance manager, complemented by support services, for the effective management of the municipality’s infrastructure. A dedicated maintenance structure will support the various aspects required to ensure the assets are maintained to improve their availability and longevity. This also gives Overstrand access to Veolia’s global wealth of technical expertise, which can be utilised for problem-solving and projects within the area.

“We are adopting a systematic approach to the development of municipal staff and appointed personnel by initiating training programmes in line with the requirements of Regulation 2834. We will also be investing in social projects and allocating 4% of the overall contract value to exempted micro enterprises or qualifying small business enterprises, as part of our commitment to community upliftment,” says Loubser.

The phased approach adopted for skills development will take place over a three-year period and commences with assessments of the existing personnel to determine their current skill levels. A structured NQF-level course is then identified and paired to the personnel, ensuring a focused approach to training. After completing the course, personnel can improve their classification rating as set out in Regulation 2834.

Veolia will be measured against 15 key performance indicators (KPIs) with regard to its mandate, including areas such as water and effluent quality compliance, infrastructure downtime, energy efficiency, water losses and staff training.

“Our current drinking water compliance is 99% and effluent compliance is 95%. These are included among the KPIs on the contract, and penalties have been built into the contract to encourage continuous improvement,” explains Blignaut.

Keeping up to date

Although the decision to upgrade, expand and implement new technologies remains with the municipality, Blignaut points out that Veolia’s skills and expertise will ease the O&M of infrastructure where new technologies have been deployed.

As part of Veolia’s drive towards standardisation, energy optimisation and reduction in chemical consumption, the company is currently conducting a number of process optimisation studies for Overstrand that might lead to potential upgrades and the implementation of new technologies to improve efficiencies and compliance. These new technologies include biological dewatering processes, AnoxKaldnesTM moving bed biofilm reactors, Hydrotech filters, as well as enhanced coagulation and flocculation processes similar to Veolia’s MultifloTM clarification processes.

Loubser adds that, as part of a worldwide company called Veolia Environnement, Veolia Water Technologies South Africa has access to over 160 years of knowledge and experience in the management of water and wastewater services for public authorities and industrial companies. “With a solid background in water treatment technology, plant design, construction, and O&M, we can offer municipalities like Overstrand a truly holistic water solutions offering,” says Loubser.

He believes that the O&M partnership offers Veolia the opportunity to showcase its skills within the Overstrand municipal environment and ultimately improve and optimise processes to ensure a beneficial relationship between contractor and client.

“Limited budget remains a challenge in most municipalities, and Overstrand is no exception. With the implementation of this long-term O&M contract, efficiencies are to be improved, and the available funds are to be utilised
optimally – to the benefit of our taxpayers,” concludes Blignaut.

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