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Valerie Naidoo  
Self-regulation of the package plant/SWWTW industry

The Small Wastewater Treatment Works (SWWTW) industry is an active and competitive industry which supplies technology options for decentralised wastewater treatment. Within the context of the sector, industry, regulators, and stakeholders, a SWWTW in South Africa is defined as plants smaller than 2ML/d. Generally, these plants are implemented to support sanitation services where local government considers centralised waterborne systems as unfeasible or where developers or owners cannot connect to the centralised network.

The Water Research Commission (WRC) will be sharing the developments made in the SWWTW on Tuesday, 27 May 204 at the WISA Biennial Conference in Nelspruit, Mbombela Stadium.

Amongst other things, the workshop will look at the evaluation of package plants that are not functioning optimally and thus, not meeting all regulatory requirements.  This has led to confusion on accountability and thus in the past there has been distrust and confusion relating to design, technical expertise, regulation and roles and responsibilities which has a major impact on the reputation of the industry.

In 2010 the WISA Small Wastewater Treatment Works Division was formed by the sector with the aim to build relationships between the various role-players which will ultimately lead to better consensus building approaches to designing, managing, operating, maintaining, supplying and regulating small WWTW whilst meeting the need of protecting the environment and society through responsible application of appropriate technologies.

This WRC workshop is aimed at sharing with the sector the progress made to date relating to: partnerships, standards, performance testing and accreditation. The WISA Division has been working in partnership with the WRC and SEWPACKSA to evaluate self-regulatory mechanisms for improving confidence in the technologies supplied and managed. The workshop will consult on 2 reports which will be published by the WRC in 2014:


a.       Volume 1 – Self-regulation of the package plant/SWWTW industry : Development of a Quality Assurance Framework (standards and performance testing)

b.       Volume 2 - – Self-regulation of the package plant/SWWTW industry : Development of a  Green Droplet Accreditation Score system

The workshop will provide an overview on applicable materials and constructions standards based on SANS that may be applicable to the industry. If these standards are adopted uniformly by all suppliers and checked by owners and regulators then the challenges around poor workmanship and materials construction would be resolved.

Another challenge that the sector faces is the introduction of new “technologies” that are considered to be the magic bullet of wastewater treatment. Currently, there is no independent body that performs tests that verify the performance guarantee of the designed system. The WRC report thus, also evaluated global standards and proposes a performance testing procedure to be followed. In addition, the report explores the opportunity to set up industry agreed “Performance Testing Evaluation Centres” which can perform the standardized test as an independent body and issue a certification of performance compliance to a supplier. 

 It is envisaged therefore, that eventually the members of SEWPACKSA will have these certifications which will then make it easier for regulators to manage compliance. If a technology is still seen to be failing in the field, then the regulator can turn its attention to ensuring the operations, maintenance, optimisation and upgrades are evaluated and implemented. Finally, the report also proposes a “green droplet” self-regulation system for the overall management of SWWTW which the expectation that through recognition and publicity of good practice it will drive excellence and innovation in the industry and sector.

Furthermore, the workshop will present the industry association SEWPACKSA’s framework of standards proposal for its members and look to discuss the opportunities, advantages and practicalities of the options for the sector.

A panel discussion will then follow on the activities and various categorizations of plants smaller than 2Ml/d with the aim to eventually harmonize the approach based on the combined needs of all stakeholders. Invited guests

 The Workshop Programme

Session to be chaired by Vishnu Mabeer (eThekwini)



The Small Wastewater Treatment Works Overview on self- regulation in the industry

Valerie Naidoo (WRC and Division Chair)



SEWPACKSA Overview: Setting the Standard

Gary Brown (SEWPACKSA)



DWA Perspective

Ms Zanele Mupariwa (DWA: Regulations)



Proposal on Categorization

Paul Gaydon (WEC projects/SSI)



Discussions with the sector

a) categorization

b) green droplet

c) performance testing

 Contact: Valerie Naidoo; valerien@wrc.org.za

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