Water treatment upgrade on the way for AFB Hoedspruit

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SANEDI, the SA National Energy and Development Institute, has partnered with the Defence Works Formation (DWF) in a water treatment works project at AFB Hoedspruit in Limpopo.

The project which commenced late in April is another in a string of government initiatives launched to not only slight and hopefully stop the spread of COVID-19 but also to establish and upgrade much-needed infrastructure.

The provision of safe water, sanitation and hygienic conditions is essential for protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks including COVID-19 according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) recent report: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Waste Management for the COVID-19 Virus.

“Ensuring evidenced-based and consistently applied WASH (water, sanitation and health) and waste management practices in communities, homes, schools, marketplaces  and  healthcare facilities will help prevent human-to-human transmission of the virus causing COVID-19,” according to the report.

The AFB Hoedspruit project, which started with a preliminary scoping, will focus on provision of reliable clean water and energy efficiency with a direct impact on supporting and promoting good hygiene to curb the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

Reliable and sufficient energy form the backbone in the effective delivery of clean water and waste treatment systems.  Hoedspruit is in a water stressed area compounded by a local authority with electricity and water supply challenges, SANEDI said in a statement.

Maruleng Municipality, into which the air force base falls, delivers services hampered by an aging, often defunct and energy inefficient infrastructure of sewage and water treatment works at the base, now home to 19 Squadron after service as both a fighter base and combat flying school.  The DWF has facilitated the SANEDI intervention to assess and implement energy solutions to ultimately see potable water distribution in Hoedspruit and surrounds.

The project will initially assess current infrastructure on the base, looking specifically at energy consumption as well as the current state of repair and operations of the water treatment plant and base sewage works.  SANEDI will investigate opportunities for clean energy (energy efficient and renewable energy sources) interventions across the base water treatment infrastructure.

Based on assessments and available data, SANEDI will recommend energy and water system interventions.  This is expected to lead to project initiation this year, COVID-19 restrictions allowing, the statement said.

Dr Karen Surridge, SANEDI manager: renewable energy centre of research and development, clean energy said: “The AFB Hoedspruit water treatment works project will focus primarily on energy efficiency, possible renewable energy interventions and system support toward efficient, reliable and clean water provision.

“The project is expected to include skills development and transfer, long-term maintenance and development of an inter-institutional support team comprising SANEDI, the SANDF and Maruleng municipality.”

Major General Joseph Ledwaba, General Officer Commanding the DWF, said “We look forward to a fruitful collaboration leading to reliable and health-promoting water treatment and supply to the Hoedspruit community”

The DWF will provide system maintenance and structural implementation support.  Further any hardware installations will be protected by the SA Air Force military police in the form of 514 Squadron meaning access control will be stringent, preventing theft and vandalism according to SANEDI.

“With the water treatment works project at Hoedspruit we hope to establish an infrastructure providing clean, safe water for the air force base as well as residents in town and surrounding communities,” Surridge said.