Government and individuals can contribute to solutions for the water sector by creating awareness on unlicensed dumping at manholes, and through better collaboration among industry bodies, says wastewater treatment utility East Rand Water Care Company (ERWAT) MD Tumelo Gopane.
“Inadequate coordination is a key challenge. For example, the wastewater heads across the eight major metros do not have a regular formal collaboration forum. “Imagine the progress we could make through coordinated planning and budgeting through a formal forum.”
He mentions, by comparison, that the Utility CEO Forums are exclusive and intimate gatherings of CEOs/executives from Africa’s power utilities and expert partners.
“The forums offer CEOs a unique learning opportunity to think differently about the most pressing challenges while exchanging ideas among peers. “The Utility CEO Forums pave the way for transformation and deeper collaboration.”
Attendance at the Utility CEO Forums is by invitation only and the closed-door boardroom meetings – facilitated under Chatham House Rules – are held once a year on the sidelines of African Utility Week, explains Gopane.
ERWAT was invited to attend this year’s meeting for the second time, where Gopane will be the ERWAT representative and will participate in the dialogues. He notes that his focus at this year’s forum will be on emphasising the importance of wastewater reuse, as well as creating awareness on treating wastewater to the right qualities before discharging it into the receiving natural environment.
He notes that, while the forum will be key in creating awareness, ERWAT will also be exhibiting its wastewater treatment service offerings at its stand.
Gopane mentions that ERWAT will discuss various treatment technologies and continuous quality improvement, as well as ongoing research and development that is available in the water treatment sector.
Moreover, in response to government’s mandate to protect the country’s scarce water resources, ERWAT will also provide insight on more efficient technologies to improve the quality of the receiving surface water. These include Nereda wastewater treatment technology, new age biofilters with plastic media and Hybacs technology, among others.
“We have employed two of these newer technologies at two of our plants and they are doing very well,” says Gopane. “The Hybacs technology was commissioned in 2017 at Tsakane Water Care Works (WCW) in Gauteng, and is reaching a 97% compliance rate, while Nerada wastewater treatment technology is expected to be commissioned in October at the Hartebeestfontein WCW, in Gauteng.
Meanwhile, Gopane points out that commercial companies and individual households need to be more responsible when disposing of wastewater.
“Individuals need to realise how an individual piece of floss can be detrimental to the environment and the marine life if it is not picked up by the sand filters used at the wastewater treatment plants; therefore, households and individuals should avoid dumping solid waste in drains and sewers.”
He concludes that industries should pre-treat wastewater before sending it to municipal WCW, and ensure that all wastewater disposed of in municipal systems has a permit, as dumping poses challenges to wastewater infrastructure.