Water Use Licence Applications and NWA Specialist Studies

The Biovac Institute

Umvoto was commissioned by HI Calibre Engineering (Pty) Ltd on behalf of The Biologicals and Vaccines Institute of South Africa (Pty) Ltd (Biovac) to undertake a groundwater assessment (including a desktop study, field study and borehole siting) of the Biovac site in Ndabeni, Cape Town. Biovac currently uses municipal water for various processes involved in the manufacturing of vaccines, as well as for potable and sanitation use on-site, and wishes to replace as much of this municipal water use as possible with groundwater abstraction. The groundwater assessment aimed to determine the groundwater potential of the Biovac site and suggest borehole sites for drilling and testing, which have now been completed successfully within the Tygerberg Formation (Malmesbury Group) basement aquifer. With the groundwater assessment and development complete, the water use licence application (WULA) has been submitted on behalf of Biovac and is awaiting final feedback.

In early 2022 Biovac will become the first company in Africa to produce an mRNA-based vaccine, specifically the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, for exclusive distribution within the 55 African Union member states. Being one of only a handful of vaccine manufactures on the African continent, any halt in production (importing, exporting, packaging, testing, and supplying vaccines) due to potential future drought conditions is likely to result in patients not being able to obtain these important vaccines. Furthermore, any halt in production and discontinuation of operations would have a detrimental effect on the production and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, which President Cyril Ramaphosa himself has said “will contribute significantly to health security and sustainability on our continent, which currently has the least access to [the COVID-19] vaccination in the world”. Development and licensing of a groundwater system to fully supply enough water for vaccine production at Biovac is critical to ensuring their water security, and assisting South Africa and Africa make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

West Coast Aquaculture Freshwater Specialist Study

Umvoto was appointed by an international corporation, which specialises in the set up and operation of land-based 4th generation Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) and Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture Systems (IMTAS), to undertake a specialist freshwater study in the vicinity of their proposed aquaculture development along the West Coast of the Western Cape. Umvoto undertook the freshwater specialist study into the potential impacts of the proposed aquaculture development on a nearby salt pan-type wetland in terms of Section 21 (c) and (i) of the National Water Act.

To limit the impact of the implementation and the operation of the client’s proposed construction design, Umvoto undertook a desktop and field-based wetland delineation study (using soil, vegetation and biota classification). Based on the results of the study Umvoto made recommendations to the client, which will allow them to commence with their development in the most ethically suitable manner possible within the ecologically sensitive project area.


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muizenberg, Cape town