Gamtoos Water Services

Water Provision & Management

Water is stored and supplied from Kouga Dam through a network of canals, pipelines and balancing dams. The catchment includes the Kouga and Baviaans Rivers and covers an area of 38 000 square kilometres. The users are the farmers in the Gamtoos Valley, the small towns of Patensie and Hankey, and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM). The main usage is agricultural irrigation (72%), with the balance for residents and NMBM (28%).

Management of Irrigation Quotas

All water allocations are done by the Department of Water and Sanitation. The standard allocations for water users are as follows:
• Irrigators – 8 000 cubic metres per annum per scheduled hectare
• NMBM – 23 million cubic metres per annum

Water Conservation & Demand Management

Gamtoos Water continues to do everything in its power to reduce water losses in the system, with the first objective being to measure as accurately as possible. These are some of the most important steps taken to achieve better water conservation and water demand management (WCWDM):

  • Replacing all 850 re-calibrated water meters for farmers.
  • Measuring all water lost at rejects.
  • Reading and recording meter readings on a monthly basis.
  • Regular testing and calibration of meters.
  • Giving immediate attention to water leaks.
  • Proper maintenance of canal infrastructure.
  • Regular treatment to eradicate algae in the canals.
  • Installing ecoLog telemetry loggers in canal system to monitor water levels.
  • Implementing a maintenance plan for all syphons.
  • Recording problem areas and maintenance done on canals to have a record of hotspot areas.

Water losses were reduced from 20% in 1991 to 13.5 % in 2008 when Gamtoos Water (then called Gamtoos Irrigation Board) received a national award for water conservation and demand management.

Infrastructure Management & Monitoring

Sound financial management is essential to achieve proper maintenance of the infrastructure.

Monitoring staff are assigned to specific sections of the canals to identify leaks, blockages and siltation on a daily basis. Any issues are reported immediately to the office-based water controller who in turn reports to the works manager, who dispatches a repair team to attend to the case. In extreme cases, the teams work through the night to repair leaks.

Parts of the canal system are intermittently shut down for essential annual maintenance, when cleaning of silt build-up, concrete repairs and painting of mechanical components are carried out. This takes about two months in total.

The main maintenance period takes place over two weeks in June and July, when the main canal is shut down.

Construction & Civil Engineering Capacity

Water allocations are at capacity as the yield of the Kouga Dam cannot accommodate any additional usage. For that reason, the focus is in maintenance and refurbishment. Gamtoos Water pays a levy to the Department of Water and Sanitation, which allows the Department to carry out the refurbishment of the main canal and Kouga Dam. Gamtoos Water’s own teams carry out the general maintenance of the main canal, branch canals and pipelines.

Ecosystem Services Management

Gamtoos Water was an implementing agent for various government-led Expanded Public Works Programmes from 1998 to 2023.

Gamtoos Water, on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs, implemented poverty alleviation projects, mostly the clearing of alien invasive vegetation (Working for Water), but also the rehabilitation of wetlands by building weirs (Working for Wetlands), and the planting of Spekboom which is referred to by scientists as the “wonder tree” due to its ability to sequestrate carbon (Working for Ecosystems).