Mokolo Crocodile Water Augmentation Project (MCWAP)
Mokolo Crocodile Water Augmentation Project (MCWAP): addressing Lephalale’s critical future need for bulk raw water supply, Limpopo, South Africa
The largest dry-cooled, coal-fired power station in the world, Medupi, together with an abundance of mining activities and a rapidly growing population in the Lephalale area of Limpopo, South Africa, have a critical need in common – a large and reliable water supply. Recognising the importance of catering for this need, the Mokolo Crocodile Water Augmentation Project (MCWAP) was initiated to construct two main bulk raw water transfer systems.
Zutari was engaged in a joint venture of five consultants – Mokolo Crocodile Consultants (the JV) – to complete a range of engineering services for Phase 1 of the project, covering tender design and documentation, detailed design, construction supervision, contract administration, the preparation of an environmental management plan (EMP), and various risk and hazard and operability (HAZOP) components.
Resources from the five design companies, all contributing to a single project office and working in a common digital environment, were mobilised. Phase 1 comprised a 4.5 MW pump station and a 46 km pipeline (of up to 1,100 mm diameter), delivering approximately 30 Mm³/a of water, abstracted from the Mokolo Dam in the mountains south of Lephalale.
Fostering a culture of close collaboration in the JV was key to successfully creating an optimised and innovative environment for the duration of the project. This resulted in a noteworthy number of structural, process and product innovations being implemented and/or prototyped by the project. Some examples are:
Constructing the MCWAP-1 pipeline necessitated blasting in-situ rock formations without damaging an existing adjacent pipeline. It was essential that this water pipeline remained in service, as it was the only pipeline supplying the Eskom Matimba Power Station, the Grootegeluk coal mine and one municipality. The project team developed a novel set of criteria for specifying and evaluating the design of blasting loads that prevented any structural damage or outages due to the blasting operations.
Fostering a culture of close collaboration in the JV was key to successfully creating an optimised and innovative environment for the duration of the project.
Saving cost through 3D modelling
The project was an early adopter of 3D modelling and design applications. Organising the design office to function within an integrated digital design environment resulted in a significant reduction in the cost-per-drawing metric for the project.
Saving time with robotics
Innovative thinking, including the use of improved processes and robotic equipment, reduced construction duration. An example was inspecting a section of old pipeline with a robotic crawler developed specifically for the project. The contractor subsequently improved on the beta version of the crawler and commercialised the design.
Opportunities for upskilling
The project duration presented an excellent opportunity for training and mentoring project resources. Several of the junior engineers (which included engineers from the client and the contractor) attained professional registrations, while others were mentored in more advanced management and contracts administration roles.
Looking to the future
The project team was tasked with developing a fully revised technical and performance specification for the project. The team also modularised it to allow for easy application in different project environments and changed future circumstances.
*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020. Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.