Durban Water Recycling Project
Author: Jay Bhagwan (Water Research Commission)
Water supply sources within South Africa are becoming ever more limited, while the need for alternative solutions is becoming increasingly more important with reuse becoming more attractive over traditional solutions.
The city of Durban in the Ethekweni municipality, located on the east coast of South Africa, was faced with the challenge of sewage capacity constraints and the high cost of constructing a new outflow or marine outfall pipeline. They put together plans to increase capacity by building a duplicate sewer line, but found that the costs of wastewater disposal would be too
high. The other option available was effluent recycling for reuse. However, even this option posed a financial and technical management challenge. The solution that emerged is an example of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) that harnesses the synergies of the partners to achieve an outcome that is unprecedented in the water industry in South Africa. The projects
demonstrate innovative approaches to the sustainable development of water resources, minimization of water consumption and environmental pollution, and the achievement of technically challenging water and wastewater treatment goals. The result was the construction of a secondary waste water treatment plant and a water recycling plant, aimed at treating and supplying treated effluent to a level which was acceptable to an industrial recipient (Mondi Paper Mills) funded and managed through a partnership with the private sector Veola Water Services (VWS). This demonstrated that by pooling resources and expertise
in a PPP, and by focusing on long-term sustainability goals, all participants can benefit, including the environment.
The Durban Water Recycling Project demonstrates that innovative approaches to water resource management, environmental management, wastewater treatment technology and institutional arrangements can yield exceptional results.
Figure 1 Construction of the Durban Wastewater Recycling Plant (Photo credit: Ethekweni Metro Water Services)