Important bulk water infrastructure that is essential to the future of the greater eThekwini region, is nearing completion.

Head of eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS), Ednick Msweli, said that a 14 km long section of the city’s biggest ever bulk water pipeline – known as the Western Aqueduct – is currently being tested and commissioned. It has been under construction between Inchanga Station and Ashley Drive in Kloof for more than a year and is expected to be fully operational by mid-year.

The first phase of the giant Western Aqueduct, which carries water for 20km from the Umlaas Road Reservoir to Inchanga was commissioned at the end of 2012. The second phase – which takes Durban’s bulk water a further 39km – is expected to be complete towards the end of 2017.

Valued at around R1.8-billion, the second phase of the Western Aqueduct will significantly strengthen the bulk water supply to Durban, helping to meet the region’s ever expanding water demands for the next 30 years. The new pipeline both replaces and supplements existing infrastructure and brings water into Durban from the Midmar and recently constructed Springrove Dams.

Work along the remaining 25km main trunk pipeline of the Western Aqueduct is also now gathering momentum. This stretch runs from the Ashley Drive break pressure tank to the NR5 Reservoir at Ntuzuma and is expected to be complete by mid-2017.

Martin Bright, project manager for the Western Aqueduct, confirmed that extensive work is scheduled to begin from Alverston to Kloof Station. He reassured both residents and businesses in the area that the impact of construction would be minimal. “Because construction will take place along the rail servitude, the impact will be peripheral and won’t affect traffic unduly.”

As both the Western Aqueduct and Durban’s new Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system will run along the same 1km stretch of Shepstone Road, he added that it had been decided to escalate work in this extremely busy area in order to minimise disruptions and ensure that restricted access to businesses was minimised as much as possible.