Combining innovation and sustainabilit to provide an essential service
hilst access to clean and safe water is taken for granted in many areas across the world, it is crucial to each and every person on the planet in order to survive. For Johannesburg Water SoC Ltd. the ability to offer world class African water and sanitation utilities is the vision and backbone of the organisation. With a mission to provide all people of Johannesburg with access to quality water and sanitation services, it is now in its 15th year of business. A municipal entity incorporated in 2000, Johannesburg water commenced business on 1st January 2001. The organisationâ€™s infrastructure assets comprise of 89 water reservoirs, 28 water towers, 10 depots, 4 laboratories, 6 wastewater treatment works and over 12,500 km of distribution pipes. It is no mean feat to supply water to an entire community, with the entity supplying 1.4 million domestic, commercial and industrial customers. Serving an estimated consumer base of 4.5 million people, Johannesburg Water employs over 2,500 people.
Sustainable success The company is focused on innovation and has initiatives built around sustainable success whilst facing challenges the City is facing. The Blue Economy is a programme that has been introduced to take stock of critical needs that have been identified. This includes generating jobs, responding to basic needs of the community and ensuring that growth is generated into the local economy. The focus of this programme enables the City to control the impact on its economic and social development, using locally available resources. Through a methodological process involving scanning, screening and implementation, the scheme covers basic needs such as water, food, housing, energy, health, finance, waste management and much more, linking everything into a comprehensive model. Johannesburg Water has commenced two projects in
support of the Blue Economy brigade; these include the installation of in-pipe turbines and the replacement of 9 litre toilet cisterns with 4.5 litre cisterns. Through installing inpipe turbines, Johannesburg Water has reduced minimum night-flow which is the leakage rate at night. This enables the organisation to harness renewable energy from the water flowing through the pipe system at strategic locations. Moreover, the replacement of 9 litre toilet cisterns with 4.5 litre cisterns relates to the water conservation initiative, with the pilot project commencing in Soweto. In addition to its Blue Economy programme, Johannesburg Water is also focused on its green economy. Energy has become a key driver in the Municipal wastewater services value chain as eventually energy intensive technology, as used in activated sludge plants, will become unaffordable and a scarce resource in meeting the future demands of the high technology driven, wastewater treatment market. In turn, this will
impact the economy, environment and social activities in Johannesburg. Therefore, the city of Johannesburg (CoJ) has recognised the use of biogas as a means of contributing to the Green Economy, which forms part of the New Growth Path of National Government. Johannesburg Water manages, operates and maintains six wastewater treatment works on behalf of the CoJ for the central Gauteng region. Johannesburg selected anaerobic mesophilic digestion as the most economical and sustainable process following the introduction of the Wastewater Sludge Utilisation and Disposal Guidelines that were announced in 2006, by the Department of Water and Sanitation. In addition to the end product being compliant and well stabilised, biogas is also produced. This is the essential fuel for combined heat and power production. The future The initial installation at Northern Wastewater Treatment Works was completed just four years ago in 2012; it is capable of producing 1.1MW of power for the wastewater treatment plant. The impact of the installation is the production of 1.2MW-e renewable electricity and reduction in emission of 10,000tCO2. Since inception in 2012, 4,385MWh electricity was generated with 4,516 tons of CO2 Green House Gases offset.
Finally, the Northern Wastewater Treatment Works was the first of Johannesburgâ€™s six wastewater treatment facilities to undergo an expansion and upgrade to improve sludge digestion. This has enabled the company to comply with the Department of Water Affairsâ€™ South African Guidelines for Wastewater Sludge Handling and Disposal. Johannesburg Water also opted to implement biogas collection and storage facilities at the plant. Due to the high energy costs and increase in biogas production from the high performance equipment, Johannesburg Water was afforded a unique opportunity of introducing a biogas to energy project. The use of such technology is certainly unique to South Africa and has increased the efficiency of overall biogas to energy systems, whilst also saving the organisation money on electricity costs. Following the upgrades and investment, Johannesburg Water was named the winner of the 2012/2013 Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Project Achievement. The South African institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) awarded Johannesburg Water this prize in its Technical Excellence category. The company is far from becoming complacent with its success though and continues to upgrade and install new equipment to ensure it continues to achieve. Its Driefontein facility was the latest to be upgraded with the installation of a digestion system as part of the expansion. The second biogas to energy equipment was also introduced as part of this upgrade and is nearing completion. Future installations for Johannesburg Water also include upgrades at Bushkoppies, Goudkoppies and Olifantsvlei.
Oliver Moy Publisher
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