IT’S OPEN ... The International Water Association (IWA) Water Reuse Conference will hold about 111 platform presentations and 14 keynote addresses during the discussions on the latest development in the international water reuse. The event whose theme is Water Reuse, Blue Resource of the Future, started on Sunday and runs to Thursday in Windhoek.
THE 9th International Water Association (IWA) Conference and Exhibition on water reclamation got underway this week in Windhoek with a special focus on sustainable water usage and efficiency.
More than 400 international scientists, engineers and water researchers are meeting to compare notes and embrace new technologies on effective water reclamation practices; irrigation; potable water re-use; desalination; climate change and groundwater recharge.
IWA executive director Ger Bergkamp said it is predicted that water reclamation is expected to become an essential practice in many countries with Namibia already at the forefront.
“We selected Namibia to build on its long history in water reuse and to indicate to the world that water reuse is a water management solution for a wide range of countries.
In the past, we saw the main application of water reuse in agriculture, but now there is an increasing interest to develop other water reuse opportunities,” he said.
Programme director and the conference chairperson, Piet du Pisani told the delegates that optimal use of available resources is an important pillar on which the future must be built. Du Pisani said since Windhoek’s first reuse of treated sewage water reclamation plant in 1969 at Goreangab and the induction of artificial recharge of the Windhoek in 1997, the practice has become the City’s medium term solution for water supply.
Agriculture, Water and Forestry minister John Mutorwa said with the exception of Beaufort West in South Africa, the direct potable reclamation on a commercial scale is not practiced anywhere else in the world, even after Windhoek successfully took the lead 45 years ago.
Mutorwa said with the increase in population and the current rate and ever improving standard of living in most populous nations of the world, there is growing concern on whether the finite water resources will still be sustainable to all in the future. “If climate change is brought into the mix, it seems apparent that countries that are currently suffering water supply shortages will find it ever more difficult to quench the thirst of their people,” he said.
Mutorwa said Namibia, with a total consumption of 30 million cubic meters per annum and the current supply system of a 95th percentile assured yield of 20 million cubic meters, has turned away from blue water to treating grey, brown and green water for potable use.
Mayor Agnes Kafula said waste water should no longer be viewed as a waste product but similar to sea water and be seen as a special resource which with special treatment can supply in the ever growing needs of humanity. “Water reuse, especially in arid areas such as Namibia, is the answer to looming water shortages. It is a solution that is increasingly viable for communities as the cost of cleaning and piping water increases,” she said. She added that Windhoek has adopted a multiple barrier approach, which ensures that there are at least three barriers for contaminants of health concern.
Chairperson of the IWA water Reuse Specialist Group, Valentina Lazarova, said as a pioneer in the field of water reuse, Windhoek will open a new chapter of its contribution towards the future of sustainable water supply through the conference.
“Water reuse is becoming more sustainable and we have created locally tailored solutions with relatively simple small scale technologies based on natural processes, as well as hight tech advances membranes technologies. The accelerated application of these technologies brings the need for more efficient and cost effective energy use,” she said.
Lazarova said the water reuse plants of the future are aiming to be carbon-neutral and reliant on autonomous energy supply rather than use of energy from the power grit. Throughout the week, delegates will also visit the Goreangab Reclamation Plant and the Gammams Waste Water Care-works, Windhoek’s Aquifer Recharge Scheme as well as the Von Bach-Swakopport Water Supply Scheme. During the conference, some of the pioneers who were involved in the development of the reclamation process from the beginning will also be honoured and recognised for their outstanding work. The conference, with the theme “Water Re-use, Blue Resource of the Future”, will run until tomorrow.