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(KSA 3) Water Use and Waste Management  

THRUST 4: Sustainable And Integrated Industrial Water Management


Water is a strategic issue to the industrial sector. While the water usage by the industrial sectors are not as great as, e.g., agri-culture or domestic consumption, the impacts of the pollutants in industrial wastes and effluents on health and the environment can be significant, costly and long-lasting. The aim of this thrust is to quantify water use and waste production, predict impacts (risks) over the short-, medium- and long-term, and develop and apply methods of prevention, minimisation, reuse, recycle, recovery and beneficiation. This thrust also aims to provide appropriate, innovative and integrated solutions for water efficiency and waste management for indus-tries. In addition, Thrust 4 establishes the governance, policy and regulatory environment that currently exists and the enabling environ-ment that will be required to change behaviours to conserve water, grow the economy, and protect society and the environment.

Current programmes are:

Programme 1: Emerging challenges and solutions for the 21st century

Scope: This programme seeks to look at major challenges that may face South Africa in future from a water quality, quantity, and security level. It will explore emerging fields in science and engineering like nanotechnology to provide solutions to these challenges. In addition, t seeking new solutions, this programme will also investigate new and emerging industries, their water needs and the associated threats to health and environment. The concept of sustainable future industrial complexes and their water management will allow for better planning and regulation of new industries allowing for improved adoption of integrated resource management systems, processes and tools.

Programme 2: Integrated management

Scope: This programme focuses on integrated and innovative management arrangements e.g. PPP to support industry and government programmes which may be site, catchment and/or region specific. While the programme will focus on water, it aims to promote a more holistic approach to resource (water, energy and carbon) management by industries to bring about sustainable approaches to water and wastewater management ensuring that liabilities (waste) are turned into assets (resources) for the benefit of the environment, society and economy.

Programme 3: Quantification, prediction and minimisation of water use and waste production

Scope: In order to prioritise those facets of industrial water management that need the most urgent attention, it is important to quantify the water used and waste produced by different sectors. This programme will also look to develop new methodologies and models to aid in quantification, prediction and evaluation of data. The environmental consequences of waste products are almost always long-term in nature and these long-lasting (legacy) effects were often not fully appreciated in the past, and consequently not properly considered when waste was disposed of. Thus, this programme also aims to establish and improve pollution prediction capabilities appropriate to South African conditions and to develop cost-effective techniques and approaches to minimise or reduce the impact that legacy and new waste products have on the environment.

Programme 4: Governance, policy, regulatory, and economical instruments to improve industrial water management

Scope: The regulatory authorities are responsible for authorising and regulating the impact of industrial waste on the quality and quantity of our water resources. Traditionally the resource-intensive command-and-control approach was used almost exclusively to manage water quality. Internationally, use is increasingly made of indirect economic or other instruments to supplement or even replace the command-and-control approach to water quality management. These new approaches are believed to be more cost effective and to improve equity. Both the established and new approaches are being investigated and refined in order to support improvements to the governance, policy, regulatory, self-regulatory, and financial mechanisms that could be used to control and reduce the negative environmental effects associated with industrial waste. This programme will largely look at these mechanisms from an industry perspective in order to improve, review and enable implementation. 

Programme 5: Water efficiency , cleaner production, beneficiation and treatment of industrial effluents

Scope: This programme looks at water use efficiency and associated tools, methodologies and systems as a primary driver of reduced effluent generation. In spite of efforts to minimise waste production it is acknowledged that effluent production will for the foreseeable future remain an expected consequence of industrial activities and thus this programme aims to support the development of a range of processes and techniques for effective beneficiation, recovery, reuse, recycle, disposal and ultimately treatment  of industrial effluents. The international trend towards waste management is to minimise the production of waste by adopting cleaner production processes and green chemistry concepts for chemicals. Approaches such as life-cycle analysis are employed to ensure that the net effect is positive and does not merely represent the transfer of negative effects from one sector or environmental medium to another.  In addition, the programme entails the exploration and exploitation of in-process recycle and reuse opportunities prior to end-of-pipe treatment solutions. Expected outcomes include the potential recovery of materials, water and energy for beneficial reuse and fundamental scientific/engineering support for process development and thus longer term initiation of the secondary economy opportunities within South Africa.

Linkages to Government outcomes

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

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

  • Output 1: Enhanced quality and quantity of water resources

    • Reduction of water loss from distribution networks from current levels of approximately 30% to 18% by 2014 coupled with encouraging users to save water

    • 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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