The Water Research Commission (WRC) has published several studies addressing the concerns associated with the reuse of treated wastewater. These studies, developed in line with the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Water Reuse Strategy, will be showcased in a series of roadshows taking place around the country.
The first two roadshows will take place in eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality on Thursday, 18 February, at a Water Reuse plant in Merebank (Veolia Water Technologies), and at Midvaal Water, Klerksdorp, on 19 February 2016.
Water reuse and recycling is common practice in developed countries, wherein industry accounts for 50-80% of the total water demand, and still has a substantial effect in agriculture-dominated countries, where it makes up 10-30% of the total water demand and is likely to increase.
Wastewater reuse began in the United States in the 1940s when chlorinated wastewater was used for steel processing, Since then, reuse and recycling of water in industry has escalated throughout the USA and Europe, and lately also in Asia and other parts of the world.
In South Africa only a few municipalities have considered water recycling and wastewater reclamation as a means to extend water supply to consumers. Domestic use is typically extracted from a water resource (dam, river or groundwater). Households then use this treated water for cooking, cleaning, drinking and gardening. A portion of this water, known as grey-water (water from baths, showers, hand basins and washing machines) and black-water (sewage) reports to the sewer and eventually a central wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), where it is treated before being discharged back into the water resource.
Dr Jo Burgess, WRC Research Manager says, “Water reuse practices are slowly starting to get attention in bigger municipalities with very high water demands, such as the City of Cape Town which currently treats its wastewater effluent to a high water quality standard in the Bellville, Parow and Kraaifontein areas, to supply treated wastewater to those customers”.
Lessons can be drawn from municipalities, such as eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality’s Water and Sanitation Division, who in the early 1990’s identified the potential of reusing the effluent to address many of the costs and environmental issues. This innovative approach became a win-win situation, especially for local industries as they pay half the price of potable water. On the other hand, eThekwini Municipality wins because it gets approximately 37 mL/d of sewage treated at a reduced cost, plus potable water is made available for another use.
The WRC Roadshows are being held to dispel misunderstandings or misconceptions on water reuse, especially now that the Southern African region is experiencing a persistent drought.
“Although water reuse is common across the world to address water scarcity problems, some Muslim community groups here in South Africa consider reused water as impure and unfit for purification. The WRC recently completed a study that investigated such perceptions”, said Dr Nonhlanhla Kalebaile, Research Manager responsible for drinking water quality at WRC.
During the roadshows WRC Research Managers responsible for water use and waste management, Drs Burgess and Kalebaile, will be giving a broad overview of the water reuse WRC portfolio. A drinking water and water reuse specialist, Mr Chris Swartz, will share insights from many years of research in the fields of drinking water quality and water reclamation and reuse.
Ms Hameda Deedat will be sharing research findings based on her recently completed study that looked at the reaction of the Islamic community to water reuse.
For more information download WRC guidelines from the Knowledge Hub www.wrc.org.za or contact Dr Nonhlanhla Kalebaila email@example.com, Cell: 083 268 7739 or Dr Jo Burgess firstname.lastname@example.org , Cell: +27 83 452 6838