Water management forms an important part of African Utility Week (AUW) and, this year, the conference will focus on how private–public partnerships (PPPs) can assist water utilities to become more responsive and efficient in their practices.
During the upcoming AUW, in Cape Town, in May, water conference delegates will embark on a special site visit to the Genius of Space Project, at Langrug, to see a successful project based on biomimicry principles in action.
Biomimicry is the design and production of a system that is modelled on biological processes.
In the informal settlement of Langrug, in Franschhoek, this innovative wastewater treatment project is changing the lives of the community for the better while reversing the effects of water pollution in the Berg river.
“The only way to stay healthy is to work hand in hand with each other and with Genius of Space, since they are trying to change our lives in the community,” says Genius of Space biomimicry water treatment and waste upcycling project flow agent Vumile William Dlova.
He notes that this system changed the community because the children in the community are now playing in clean, dry areas with no dirty water running between houses.
“There are no more flies around. We are living in a healthy environment.”
Although water and sanitation are generally available in Langrug informal settlement, these services are limited and have led to improper disposal of wastewater, while solid waste is discarded throughout the settlement, causing a health hazard with grey water flowing into stormwater drains and ultimately into the Berg river and polluting it.
The Genius of Space system gives Langrug residents the opportunity to dispose of their grey water in disposal drums where it is filtered.
The water then flows into a system of underground pipes and into tree gardens where it is treated.
About 500 Langrug residents are currently using the 27 disposal points in the settlement.
AUW event director Evan Schiff says that drinking water and wastewater utilities in Africa are struggling to cope with the increasing demand for services, especially in rapidly growing urban areas.
Therefore, responding adequately to this ever-increasing demand necessitates strong and active partnerships between the private sector, in particular, and municipal governments.
“These partnerships need to identify and secure much-needed finance, as well as clean and more efficient technology to achieve the water and sanitation targets set out in the [United Nations] Sustainable Development Goals,” he points out.
In addition, the PPPs need to improve the environmental footprints of utilities and municipalities in response to the Paris Agreement.
He concludes that the water track at AUW will bring together experts from the public and private sectors to support utilities and municipalities in becoming more responsive and efficient in their practices.