A long-standing wastewater treatment public–private partnership project in Durban is being held up as an example of how innovative approaches to water resource and environmental management, wastewater treatment technology and institutional arrangements can yield results.
The Durban Water Recycling (DWR) plant, which marked its tenth successful year of operation this year, treats domestic and industrial sewage and wastewater to near-potable standards for use in industrial processes by high-volume customers, such as Mondi Paper and crude oil refinery Sapref, a joint venture between Shell South Africa Refining and BP Southern Africa.
The plant was designed, supplied and commissioned by Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies South Africa (VWS South Africa). The other stakeholders in the partnership include municipal utilities eThekwini Water Services (EWS) and Umgeni Water, Japanese company Marubeni Corporation, black-owned Khulani Holdings and speciality chemicals supplier Zetachem, which is part of the Omnia group.
“As a water-stressed country, we need initiatives that can assist in preserving our natural water resources. This public–private partnership project harnesses the energies of the partners and highlights the potential role that the private sector can play in water management, treatment and distribution,” says DWR MD and VWS South Africa deputy MD Arnaud Gisclon.
Located in the south of Durban, in the grounds of the EWS, the sewage water treatment works (SWTW) is an environment- friendly 47.5 Mℓ/d capacity plant.
The potable water that industrial consumers previously drew from the municipal system is now redistributed to previously disadvantaged periurban communities, without needing to invest in major bulk water supply and treatment infrastructure. The pollution load on the marine environment as a result of recycling water that was pre- viously discharged in the sea is also reduced significantly.
The plant employs state-of-the-art water treatment processes and technologies. Wastewater enters the SWTW, where the EWS carries out various treatment steps. These steps include screening, degritting and primary settling.