Water & Environment

SMEC is a world-leader in water sector projects, consistently ranked in the Top 10 global consultants by the Engineering News Record with respect to hydropower and dams.

We provide strong local capacity supported by global experts, which enables SMEC to provide master planning, feasibility, design, construction, commissioning, O&M and management services for hydropower, dam, river and tunnel projects.

SMEC’s depth of technical expertise is evidenced by the fact that within the hydropower sector alone, we have played a role in projects with a generation capacity totalling over 38000MW including over 282km of tunnelling.

SMEC’s engineers are experienced in a diverse range of water infrastructure project components including:

  • Hydropower stations with generation capacity between 0.5MW micro-hydro to 8 000MW mega-projects, including run of river, dam wall installations, underground power stations and pumped storage schemes
  • Dams and diversion or abstraction weirs
  • Water tunnels forming part of water transfer schemes or underground hydropower stations and municipal services tunnels for bulk water and sewerage systems
  • Surge, ventilation and cable shafts, chambers and access adits associated with tunnel and hydropower schemes
  • Water intake and outlet structures for dams and tunnels
  • River rehabilitation, including flood damage repairs and pre-emptive works such as energy dissipation structures, erosion protection and sediment control through hard and soft engineering solutions.
Our River Management services
  • Master planning
  • Hydrological modelling
  • River and open channel hydraulic modelling (GeoHECRAS 1D and 2D; PC-SWMM)
  • Decision support tools such as multi-criteria analysis and life-cycle costing
  • GIS mapping and analysis
  • Site investigation (geological investigation and topographical survey)
  • Hydraulic, geotechnical, structural and environmental design
  • Contract preparation and administration
  • Construction monitoring
  • Ongoing river monitoring
  • Partnership with specialist environmental firms

Our Water Infrastructure services
  • Geological and geotechnical investigation
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Hydrological analysis, flood and system yield
  • Hydraulic analysis and design ranging from pipe and tunnel conveyances to rivers and canal systems
  • Hydro-mechanical including gates, valves, pumps and turbines
  • Civil and structural design
  • Construction planning, scheduling and costing
  • Construction monitoring and quality control
“We provide local staff who understand local technical, social and procurement norms, supported by global experts in specialist fields. All SMEC’s designs are developed in 3D, utilising cutting-edge technological solutions such as drones and BIM to deliver exceptional service.”
– Shaun Chamberlain, Function Manager, Civil Infrastructure

Lesotho Highlands Water Project

At inception, the LHWP was designed to include four phases which were to be implemented over a period of 30 years and expected to ultimately transfer about 70 cubic meters of water per second to the industrial province of Gauteng in South Africa. SMEC has been involved with the design and construction of major works for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project since 1988 when designs for the Phase 1A Works commenced.

In 2006, the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) named the scheme the Most Outstanding Engineering Achievement of the Century.


Sindila Hydropower project, Bundibugyo, Uganda

The Sindila 5.25MW Small Hydro Project is a run-of-river, high head and low flow scheme. It is comprised of a Tyrolean weir, intake channel, desilting channel, 2km low-pressure headrace pipeline (1000mm dia), surge tank, 2km high-pressure penstock pipeline (1000mm dia), powerhouse complete with turbine and electrical installations and a tail-race channel.

SMEC performed Owner’s Engineer services from construction inception, and was further appointed as the Owner’s Project Manager half-way through construction due to non-performance of the previous consultant.


Mokolo Crocodile Water Augmentation Project

SMEC South Africa was appointed as a partner in the Mokolo Crocodile Consultant Joint Venture to carry out the design, project management, geotechnical investigation, topographical surveys, and site supervision for the project. This includes contract documentation and management, pipe route alignment, pipeline design, pump station and valve chamber design, reservoir layouts, geotechnical design and structural design.Phase 1 was taken to completion of construction, and Phase 2 was paused at completion of the preliminary design.