South Africans to drink recycled sewage water

Durban and Cape Town residents will have to start looking seriously at drinking recycled water from the local sewage works within the next few years as water supplies are running out and there is not enough time to build big new dams.

Sewage spills are commonplace in Jeffreys Bay

Gauteng would also have to start diluting large volumes of acidic mine water within the next three years to avoid unacceptable pollution of the Vaal River system

Speaking at a water experts meeting in uMhlanga last Tuesday, Department of Water Affairs planning director Johan van Rooyen said Durban and Cape Town were both flushing large volumes of domestic “waste water” into the sea when it could be recycled to meet the growing water demands.

While it was technically feasible to desalinate sea water to solve the shortage in these cities, the cost of desalinated water was around R12 per kilolitre, whereas recycling domestic effluent to tap water quality cost about R7 per kilolitre.

The conference is investigating and promoting the recycling of domestic and industrial waste-water into drinking quality tap water in the 30th most water-stressed country in the world.

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A government water planning graph suggests that Durban would need to start using some recycled water within the next two years, despite construction of the new Spring Grove Dam near Mooi River.

Gauteng would face similar pressure to reuse more effluent as it would cost about R17/Kl to transfer water from the uMzimvubu River in the Eastern Cape or R35/Kl from the Zambezi River.

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