Sewage water on the cards

2012-11-09 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG residents could be drinking recycled sewage water in a few years if a feasibility study on waste water reclamation being conducted at Darvill waste water works proves viable.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said the study was expected to be completed only in three years.

What could happen sooner though is that Durban and other coastal residents could be drinking desalinated sea water. Harichunder said research indicated the viability of using large-scale desalination plants.

“An analysis of the results showed desalination through sea water reverse osmosis might be a competitive alternative,” he said.

Harichunder said two sites — north and south of Durban — had been identified for the establishment of desalination plants.

He said research for both the desalination and recycling projects would be thorough as the water eventually obtained had to conform to national standards for drinking water quality.

Harichunder said the projects were being carried out in the context of finding alternate water resources.

A study by the Water Affairs and Forestry Department showed that even the planned Mooi-Mgeni Dam project under construction would not meet the future water needs of KZN’s growing metropolitan areas.

There was also a feasibility study being carried out on the implementation of a larger uMkhomazi water scheme.

The plan is to transfer water from the undeveloped uMkhomazi River through a series of dams to the existing Mgeni water system that supplies the eThekwini/Umgungundlovu district.

Harichunder said if the uMkhomazi project was deemed viable, it would cost in excess of R8 billion and an optimistic date for its implementation would be 2024.

According to the Department of Water Affairs, if it does go ahead, the uMkhomazi project would be the largest water transfer scheme in South Africa, comparable to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project in terms of water volume and tunnel lenghts and diameters.

However, with climate change bringing extremes of flood and drought, and with most of the easily accessible rivers in KZN already fully used, Umgeni Water realised that it could not put all its eggs in one basket.

Aside from the uMkhomazi project, it needed to investigate alternative water resources, like desalination and waste water reclamation.

Harichunder said both methods were being carried out in several parts of the world and that Umgeni Water was looking at different technologies and investigating various membrane filtration techniques.

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