Wastewater technology choices compromise quality

56% of treatment plants are performing poorly or in a critical state

In many small towns municipalities have revenue bases that are not sufficient to cover the costs of operation and maintenance.

The findings from a Water Research Commission study done in partnership with  the South African Local Government Association (SALGA)  indicates that 44% of the studied wastewater treatment plants may have opted for less suitable (inappropriate) technologies when considering their resource base, capacity to manage and provide  effluent quality requirements, whereas 33% technology options were questionable.

Read full press release here: South African Water Research Commission

Water By-law clarified by City

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 July 2011

It is imperative that renovations comply to the Water By-law

Aspects of the updated City of Cape Town Water By-law has raised some queries amongst residents.

With the ever changing weather patterns associated with climate change, Cape Town remains a water scarce region and the City has a responsibility to ensure its water resources are managed effectively, efficiently, affordably and sustainably. Thus, the City is continually looking for ways to improve and enhance water and wastewater management and service delivery to ensure the availability and reliability of its water resources.

All consumers in water scarce areas should be empowered to save water and reduce their water losses/wastage. The City does this in a combination of different ways:- by providing information through various channels (media, bills, community engagement etc.); by utilising legislation (By-laws, policies) to guide or impose certain limitations; and by direct engagement with water users across the city.

There are some 620 000 domestic water connection points in the city. An ideal situation would be that every one of these premises are visited and inspected to indentify and eliminate water leaks and the discharge of stormwater into the sewers. However, the City does not have the resources to do this for every property. Continue reading

Grey water will green your garden all year round

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 16 April 2011

Installing a grey water system provides safe garden irrigation all year round and saves money and water.

Using grey water for irrigation

Grey water is waste water from baths, basins showers and washing machines, and can be used safely to irrigate lawns and gardens provided certain rules are followed.

Rule 1. The correct choice of washing powders is necessary to avoid harm to plants (also see: Commercial washing powders destroy wetland). The use of a phosphate-free washing powder is required as well as avoiding fabric softeners or sodium hypochlorite, eg Jik. Provided that laundry washing powder is changed to one that is phosphate free, grey water is perfectly safe for all gardens, including fynbos.

Rule 2. It is important to avoid wastewater from kitchen sinks and dishwashers as this wastewater contains detergents that can harm your garden.

Rule 3. When harvesting grey water it is necessary to expel the wastewater to the garden immediately – it may not be stored for later use, as in a short period the grey water turns to black water.

Once grey water has been correctly identified it is re-routed from the gully (sewer) to a small chamber from where it is automatically and silently pumped to the garden for irrigation. This is normally sent to a flexible hose and pyramid style sprinkler, providing up to 6 meters of spray.

A correctly installed system must also be connected to the sewer pipe line. This will ensure that any overflow, e.g. caused by a power failure, will see the grey water sent to sewer.

Water Rhapsody has 18 years of experience in grey water solutions, and provides a complete system installation; leaving you with years of free water and a green, healthy garden.

SA tap water could be undrinkable in 19 years

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 09 March 2011

Tap water in SA could be undrinkable in the next 19 years if the country does not change the way it uses water, or how it treats used water, scientists say.

Already, some of the tap water in SA contains poisons.

Blue-green algae produce toxins that rob water bodies of oxygen.

Poor quality water will negatively affect the economy, curbing the manufacturing sector directly and indirectly, says limnologist Bill Harding. Limnology is the study of freshwater bodies.

Despite Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica promising a turnaround in the parlous state of wastewater treatment almost a year ago, there has been no visible action taken to curb the risk from semi-treated water discharged into SA’s rivers and reservoirs, the scientists say.

Last year’s Green Drop (wastewater quality) report showed that only 32, or 3%, of SA’s estimated 850 wastewater treatment works complied with requirements for safe discharge. The report noted that only 449 of the works had been assessed, with the rest either ignoring, or being unable to comply with, the call to submit to scrutiny.

Only 32 (7%) complied with the Green Drop criteria after being measured for E. coli bacteria, nitrates, phosphates and ammonia and other nasties.

The national Green Drop Programme was launched in 2008 and was meant to cover all wastewater treatment works so as not to harm the water bodies into which they discharge their product. Continue reading

Biofuel from algae grown in wastewater

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 17 February 2011

Let algae do the dirty work. Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology are developing biodiesel from microalgae grown in wastewater. The project is doubly “green” because algae consume nitrates and phosphates and reduce bacteria and toxins in the water. The end result: clean wastewater and stock for a promising biofuel.

Cold weather is an issue for biodiesel fuels.

The purified wastewater can be channeled back into receiving bodies of water at treatment plants, while the biodiesel can fuel buses, construction vehicles and farm equipment. Algae could replace diesel’s telltale black puffs of exhaust with cleaner emissions low in the sulfur and particulates that accompany fossil fuels.

Algae have a lot of advantages. They are cheaper and faster to grow than corn, which requires nutrient-rich soil, fertilizer and insecticide. Factor in the fuel used to harvest and transport corn and ethanol starts to look complicated.

In contrast, algae are much simpler organisms. They use photosynthesis to convert sunlight into energy. They need only water—ponds or tanks to grow in—sunlight and carbon dioxide.

“Algae—as a renewable feedstock—grow a lot quicker than crops of corn or soybeans,” says Eric Lannan, who is working on his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at RIT. “We can start a new batch of algae about every seven days. It’s a more continuous source that could offset 50 percent of our total gas use for equipment that uses diesel.” Continue reading