Civil Designer Showcase

Bulk Water Services For Rural Eastern Cape

FST Consulting Engineers first opened its doors to the East London community some ten years ago with a strong focus on the infrastructural development of water sanitation, solid waste, roads and township sectors. This multidisciplinary company has a staff complement of over 35 talented members and believes in developing the skills of the team by encouraging an environment that supports on-the-job training in every project.

"I have been working at FST Consulting Engineers for just under five years and what I enjoy most about this company is that you receive recognition from fellow peers when you deliver good work. When the feedback comes from fellow engineers, it means so much more because they understand what the challenges are. One of the recent projects that I worked on and that required extensive team interaction was a bulk water supply project for the local municipality. This project involved a thorough investigation of the available bulk water services for rural areas and seaside resorts in the region," explains Technologist Johann du Preez.

According to Johann, the area stretches across 35 villages and includes many resorts. "We had to split the study area into various supply zones each covering two to three villages or resorts. The existing schemes were not adequate enough to deal with the regions water demand, resulting in the need for a proper regional bulk water supply system. During the feasibility phase, we had to consider whether or not we were going to opt for individual bulk supply lines, or a bulk "reticulation" system with linked bulk lines. Decisions like these can severely affect the pipe routes and pipe sizes," explains Johann.

"The supply area was dominated by several deep river valleys, which to some extent dictated the supply zones. A supply pipe system would follow the ridges between the valleys, but would have to be large enough to serve all the way to the coast. As an alternative these supply pipes could be linked near the coast to form a "looped" bulk system, which would have some redundancy and also enable some of the main supply lines to be smaller, with the obvious cost benefit. It was in evaluating which of these options would provide the client with the best solution, that the power and ease of the Civil Designer software was fully appreciated."
  Presenting the client with various alternatives required extensive use of the program when exploring the most cost effective route options. "We obtained the base data from the client. They have a brilliant digital terrain model supported by extensive aerial photographs of the entire region. We used the aerial pictures as a background, placed the contours and cadastral plans over it to plan and plot the routes and then produced the long sections in Civil Designer to get an accurate picture of what the terrain looked like."

"The program worked brilliantly, it automatically picked up the long sections off the DTM without any user intervention. It is so much more intuitive than other packages and I especially enjoy the time analysis function in the water module. We could evaluate the effect of the links on the proposed bulk system quite easily, and could manipulate the system to obtain a very effective hydraulic solution," says Johann, clearly impressed by the program's capabilities.

Despite spending long hours on the project, Johann is quick to point out the invaluable contribution of his fellow team members when providing the final reports. "Credit has to go to our team leader John Petzer who solved some intricate problem points and the student we used for the ‘hard' work , Abongile Sakwe who learned the program quickly and due to the ease of use of the program could do a lot of the manipulation himself."

The feasibility study has since been completed with funding allocated from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) program. "Judging by the Presidents address about adequate water supply in all the rural areas, and the amount of funding that the government are allocating to the issue, it looks as if the project will be implanted in the near future," says Johann beaming.

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