|Framework for the management of wetlands within catchments where ESKOM operates
|Expanded Title:||South Africa is a water stressed country. The definition of water stress is related to water scarcity as it includes the need to meet both human and ecological needs. The country also has huge economic development pressures and social upliftment challenges which increase the pressure on water availability (WWF, 2014). South Africa, with carbon emissions in 2012 at 330 000 kt (6.3 t per capita), ranks 19th in the world for total carbon emissions (Olivier et al., 2014). Eskom’s coal-fired power stations are large contributors to South Africa’s carbon emissions.
Since the revision of environmental policy and legislation that began after 1994 the legislative requirements for wetland management have become much more demanding – in particular the National Water Act (1998), the various parts of the National Environmental Management Act (1998), National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act (2003) and the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (2004). There are also other acts that have effect on wetland management. These Acts require a high level of compliance from those working in and around wetlands. The legal requirements are evolving so it is necessary to keep abreast of the requirements and adapt to changes as they occur.
This can be challenging for the environmental managers at Eskom. The wetland management framework (WMF) has been developed to give guidance in the decision making and management of wetlands on Eskom property. The WMF, as developed, is suitable for broader application than just Eskom. The ecological and management principles are applicable anywhere in southern Africa and beyond. The legal aspects, however, are specifically South African. The framework may be applied to agricultural, urban, mining or other developments in South Africa with little modification. The intention of this document is that it should provide an industry standard that will get embedded in Eskom’s modus operandi and be used by Eskom personnel. To this end the structure has followed that of the Eskom Project Life Cycle Model (PLCM). This project has added an extra dimension to the Eskom PLCM by creating a process for the management of wetlands within the current legal environment and the current understanding of the ecosystem services in a format that may be embedded within the existing PLCM.
Eskom (originally ESCOM or EVKOM) was established in 1923 in terms of the Electricity Act of 1922. It follows that much of the infrastructure was built before the more recent understanding of the importance of the contributions of ecological infrastructure to the national economy or the spate of new legislation post 1994.
The realization amongst water managers that the country was going to be short of water came to the fore after the drought of the late 1960s. But it wasn’t for another two decades or so that this knowledge became widely accepted. So water stress has been an issue since the late 20th century.
The earlier developments were put in place without the current understanding of the need to conserve water or the need to care for the environment by, for instance, protecting water quality or providing environmental flows. Wetlands are now recognized as important providers of ecosystem services. A recent publication (De Groot et al., 2912) shows that inland wetlands are the most valuable providers of ecosystem services of all the inland biomes. The greatest contribution to this value is the regulating services. Eskom benefits from these services, but with the coal fired power stations of Mpumalanga and the Ingula PSS being in the upper catchments of major river systems, the activities of Eskom have the potential to influence the quality of the benefits provided by the ecological infrastructure to others downstream in the SES. It is, therefore, part of Eskom’s corporate responsibility to the SES to conserve the wetlands that provide these benefits to the wider SES.
One of the requirements of the NWA is that a water use license (WUL) is required for any activity that will affect a water course or wetland. While not national policy, there is an emphasis on no net loss of wetlands in the issue of WULs and there is a corps of expertise that has developed around the management and rehabilitation of rivers and wetlands. The delineation of wetlands is a basic requirement for the issue of a WUL, as is the buffer zone around wetlands. The current regulatory zone around wetlands is 500 metres – as such any activity within the regulatory zone requires a Water Use Licence.
The demand for a high level of compliance creates the need for a defined and repeatable methodology for guiding environmental managers and others who plan developments that may impact on the environment to follow so that the impacts can be minimized and, where necessary, the required authorisations may be applied for in advance. The issue of authorisations is a fairly lengthy process and can delay projects if not taken into account early enough.
The wetland management framework (WMF) developed during this project incorporates the legal requirements in a way that integrates them into the overall process of managing
wetlands on site during the various stages of the PLCM.
Eskom is one of seven South African companies (123 world-wide; 2014 figures) which have accepted the challenge of the UN CEO Water Mandate to embrace responsible water stewardship. This commits Eskom to a number of activities around caring for water and the institutional environment. In addition to the achievement of a high level of water management in-house, there is a commitment to influence the supply chain to do the same.
The ecological infrastructure that provides the benefits to the SES is not confined by the boundaries of individual properties but by catchments. The commitment through the CEO
Water Mandate to manage the water resource should, therefore, be managed by consensus, catchment-wide within the complex SES. Eskom, being a major player within the catchments in which it operates, is in the position to begin to address this.
The overall objective of this project was to develop and test an adaptable planning framework that streamlines the conservation of wetlands in areas where Eskom operates from coal to customer.
The following aims were addressed in order to achieve the overall objective:
• To conduct a situation analysis on the methods available to achieve ecologically sustainable energy generation.
• To develop an adaptable strategic framework that considers the sustainability of ecosystems at catchment scale and which can be implemented nationally.
• Collaboratively develop, streamline and test an Eskom environmental conservation management plan on selected sites.
• To understand the capacity needs necessary for the application of new monitoring tools, if any, and train the core group of implementing officers.
• To recommend further research on broader water and energy knowledge gaps.
The first step in the process of developing the required wetland management system was to conduct an extensive literature review. Next, the wetland management framework (WMF) was incorporated into the Eskom Project Life Cycle Management (PLCM) process.
The incorporation of the WMF into the Eskom PLCM would embed it in the process. This would enable environmental managers, decision-makers and engineers to make valid decisions within the complexity of integrating issues from the ecological, legal, corporate responsibility and the broader environment of the social-ecological system (SES) in a manner congruent with the existing stages of project management.
An additional stage to the PLCM, ‘Operation’ between the steps of Commissioning and Handover and Close out was inserted.
In addition, the Eskom Water Strategy was examined and a generic structure of a large corporate organisation was drawn up to find the most appropriate section of the organisation to perform the various tasks.
The WMF has a total of 78 steps necessary to align with the PLCM. These are distributed as shown in Table 1. In each stage of the PLCM the aspects of wetland management that need to be addressed are listed consecutively so that the person using the framework can work through the stage and not omit anything.
|Document Type:||Research Report
|Document Subjects:||Water Resource Management/IWRM - Catchment Management, Ecosystem - Biodiversity protection
|Document File Type:||pdf
|Research Report Type:||Standard
|WRC Report No:||2222/1/15
|Authors:||Venter A; Mitchell SA
|Organizations:||Eon Consulting; University of the Free State
|Document Size:||5 083 KB
|Attachments:||Eskom Wetland Management Framework Instructors Manual.pdf
WMF Module 1.pptx
WMF Module 2.pptx
WMF Module 3.pptx
WMF Module 4.pptx
WMF Module 5.pptx
WMF Module 6.pptx