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(KSA 3) Water Use and Waste Management  

THRUST 3: Sustainable Municipal Wastewater And Sanitation


This thrust focuses on the development of technologies and systems that optimise the full wastewater and sanitation services chain in the municipal (domestic) sector. This includes the reticulation, treatment and management of the residues. The challenge is to implement fitting solutions for a particular application that will remain functional throughout the intended lifespan of the installed infra-structure. This includes the responsible management of the wastewater sludge and faecal sludge that is generated. The need for innovative technologies and solutions is recognised as we prepare for the future – achieving more stringent effluent discharge standards, developing acceptable non-waterborne sewerage solutions, reliable treatment of ever-increasing high-strength domestic wastewater, and informing future policy.

Current programmes are:

Programme 1: Emerging treatment technologies – Preparing for the future

Scope: It is imperative to develop technologies which can achieve future policy objectives and stricter standards. It is also recognised that research generates information which could inform future policy. This programme encourages the development of technologies to address the future anticipated municipal waterborne sewage and sanitation needs as well as support government by informing future policy. It supports development of technological solutions addressing amongst others: reuse, recovery, non-waterborne sewerage solutions, grey-water management, peri-urban sanitation solutions, high strength effluent treatment, industrial and domestic effluent co-treatment etc. It also supports research aimed at informing future policy through data interpretation, projections, risk assessments, addressing emerging pollutants, predictive models, etc.

Programme 2: Application of appropriate technologies and tools

Scope: This programme addresses the improvement and innovative application of existing ‘fit for purpose’ technology for waterborne sewage treatment and on-site sanitation. The objective is to optimise appropriate application to consistently achieve strict standards with added benefits such as cost saving, ensuring ease of operation and maintenance, and improving reliability and energy efficiency. The integration of social and local economic development objectives is encouraged. The programme further focuses on the technical sustainability of wastewater treatment and sanitation services by critically appraising existing policy (including effluent discharge standards) and impacts.

Programme 3: Stormwater and sewerage systems

Scope: The programme supports the strategic and technical aspects of managing stormwater and sewerage and impacts in urban, peri-urban and rural contexts. The development of generic stormwater and sewerage planning and technology selection, design and maintenance tools is encouraged to address current needs. In order to address anticipated needs, the programme supports research focusing on improved technology including water-sensitive urban design (WSUD) and stormwater reuse. It will cover aspects of technical design, operational, maintenance, refurbishment and management aspects of stormwater and sewerage reticulation systems, to provide sustainable infrastructure in the extended delivery of sanitation services as a national priority.

Programme 4: Wastewater sludge and faecal sludge management

Scope: All wastewater treatment and on-site sanitation facilities generate a solid/sludge that needs to be managed responsibly. This programme focuses on research dedicated to improve wastewater sludge and faecal sludge management practices. Research on characterisation, emerging technologies and solutions, anaerobic processes for stabilisation, minimisation, stabilisation, dewatering, disinfection and beneficiation is encouraged.

Programme 5: Sanitation technology and innovations

Scope: To develop innovative tools and technology which support appropriate sanitation that is socially, environmentally and financially sustainable. 

Linkages to Government outcomes

These research results are in direct support of the following outputs under Outcomes 6, 7, 9 and 10 of the Programme of Action of The Presidency as announced in May 2010:

Outcome 7: Vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities and food security for all

  • Output 3: Rural services and sustainable livelihoods

    • Scale up government services. The proportion of households with clean water rises from 74% to 90%. The pro-portion of households with access to improved sanitation rises from 45% to 65%.

Outcome 9: A responsible, efficient and effective local government

  • Output 2: Improve access to basic services

Outcome 10: Environmental assets and natural resources that are well protected

  • Output 1: Enhanced quality and quantity of water resources

    • To improve current capacity to treat wastewater, 80% of sewage and wastewater treatment plants should be up-graded by 2015 and the percentage of wastewater treatment plants meeting water quality standards should be in-creased from 40% to 80% by 2014.

  • Output 2: Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, climate change impacts and improved air/atmospheric quality

    • To begin reducing South Africa’s footprint with regard to greenhouse gas emission, the percentage of power generation from renewable sources should increase from 2 000 GW/hours to 10 000 GW/hours by 2014.

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