Water&Sanitation Africa November/December 2020

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Promoting professional excellence in the water sector The official magazine of the Water Institute of Southern Africa

Water& Sanitation Complete water resource and wastewater management


Monitoring nonsewered sanitation

WISA 2020

#AllHandsOnDeck for water



New platforms for innovation


Pushing the limits of plastic pipes November/December 2020 • ISSN 1990-8857 • R55.00 (incl. VAT) • Vol. 15 No. 06

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VOL. 15 NO. 06

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020 Promoting professional excellence in the water sector The official magazine of the Water Institute of Southern Africa

Water& Sanitation Complete water resource and wastewater management


WISA 2020

Monitoring nonsewered sanitation

#AllHandsOnDeck for water



New platforms for innovation


Pushing the limits of plastic pipes November/December 2020 • ISSN 1990-8857 • R55.00 (incl. VAT) • Vol. 15 No. 06

ON THE COVER Well-laid plastic pipe has a maintenance-free work life of more than 50 years, and a century in some cases. Built on years of innovation and experience, Sizabantu’s PVC-O pipes present the ultimate future for water and sewer infrastructure. P4


Editor’s comment Africa round-up Index to advertisers

Cover Story

Pushing the limits of plastic pipes


3 12 52 4




CEO’s comment 7 Chair’s comment 8 YWP 10

Industry News

Local expert achieves international recognition

WISA 2020 • #AllHandsOnDeck

Reduce water demand and increase supply Manage resources for a capable ecology Govern and regulate the sector


17 19 20

Treatment Technology

Clean water easily and sustainably in remote locations A new platform for innovation Getting the basics right first Ultrafiltration vs sand media filtration











22 24 26 29

Health & Safety

Africa’s largest and leading gumboot specialist over the last 80 years


Sustainable sanitation and climate change Making an impact in rural communities Tackling Covid-19 in non-sewered communities


32 35 36

Water Quality

Water quality testing at your fingertips 38 Hartbeespoort continues water hyacinth fight 39


Virtual audits hold new opportunities

Mine Water

Acid mine drainage in SA’s coal mining areas


Behind the scenes of behaviour change

Flumes & Weirs

40 42 44

Parshall flume standards – clearing the confusion


Pumps Making pumps smart and flexible



South Africa: before, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic


infrastructure news



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Editor Danielle Petterson


danielle.petterson@3smedia.co.za Managing Editor Alastair Currie Head of Design Beren Bauermeister Chief Sub-editor Tristan Snijders Contributors Lester Goldman, Derek Hazelton, Niel Louw, Dan Naidoo, Peter van der Merwe, Dewald van Staden Operations & Production Manager Antois-Leigh Nepgen Production Coordinator Jacqueline Modise Distribution Manager Nomsa Masina Distribution Coordinator Asha Pursotham Group Sales Manager Chilomia Van Wijk Bookkeeper Tonya Hebenton Printers Novus Print Montague Gardens Advertising Sales Hanlie Fintelman c +27 (0)67 756 3132 Hanlie.Fintelman@3smedia.co.za

Publisher Jacques Breytenbach 3S Media 46 Milkyway Avenue, Frankenwald, 2090 PO Box 92026, Norwood 2117 Tel: +27 (0)11 233 2600 Fax: +27 (0)11 234 7274/5 www.3smedia.co.za

ISSN: 1990 - 8857 Annual subscription: R330 (SA rate) subs@3smedia.co.za Copyright 2020. All rights reserved. All articles herein are

copyright protected and may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without the prior written permission of the publishers. The views of contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the Water Institute of Southern Africa or the publishers.

WISA’s Vision

Inspiring passion for water

WISA Contacts: HEAD OFFICE Tel: 086 111 9472(WISA) Fax: +27 (0)11 315 1258 Physical address: 1st Floor, Building 5, Constantia Park, 546 16th Road, Randjiespark Ext 7, Midrand Website: www.wisa.org.za BRANCHES Central Branch (Free State, Northern Cape, North West) Chairperson: Dr Leana Esterhuizen Company: Central University of Technology Tel: +27 (0)51 507 3850 Email: lesterhu@cut.ac.za Eastern Cape: Branch Contact: Dan Abrahams Company: Aurecon Tel: +27 (0)41 503 3929 Cell: +27 (0) 81 289 1624 Email: Dan.Abraham@aurecongroup.com Gauteng Branch Lead: Zoe Gebhardt Cell: +27 (0)82 3580876 Email: zoe.gebhardt@gmail.com KwaZulu-Natal Chairperson: Lindelani Sibiya Company: Umgeni Water Cell: +27 (0)82 928 1081 Email: lindelani.sibiya@umgeni.co.za Limpopo Chairperson: Mpho Chokolo Company: Lepelle Northern Water Cell: +27 (0)72 310 7576 Email: mphoc@lepelle.co.za Mpumalanga Chairperson: Lihle Mbatha (Acting) Company: Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency Tel: +27 (0)13 753 9000 Email: mbathat@iucma.co.za Western Cape Chairperson: Natasia van Binsbergen Company: AL Abbott & Associates Tel: +27 (0)21 448 6340 Cell: +27 (0)83 326 3887 Email: natasia@alabbott.co.za



he Covid-19 pandemic has placed added strain on South Africa’s municipalities, many of which are now under severe financial pressure. This builds on the existing challenges, such as a lack of capacity, poor financial audit outcomes and political instability. The result is poor service delivery and declining levels of confidence. The seventh South African Citizen Satisfaction Index (SA-csi), conducted by Consulta, shows that citizen satisfaction and trust in their local municipality has remained extremely low, with none of the eight metros managing to meet residents’ expectations of service delivery. Not only did municipalities record the lowest satisfaction scores by a far margin for all industry sectors tracked by the SA-csi, but the gap between citizen expectations and perceived quality continues to widen. This means that while citizen expectations are increasing, actual service delivery and quality is declining. The citizens surveyed highlighted water supply and management, electricity supply, refuse removal, unkempt streets, and rates and accounts as the key things that they are unsatisfied with. It is clear from the results that trust in the ability to deliver is severely eroded and that the gap between expectations and actual delivery is widening across all metros. Adding to the burden, the Financial and Fiscal Commission has warned that the spending cuts outlined in the Mediumterm Budget Policy Statement could have a direct and long-lasting impact on service delivery. The commission added that the continued cuts to municipalities will likely have an impact on basic water and electricity delivery, and may be counterintuitive to government’s infrastructure growth strategy. Infrastructure Investment Plan President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan centres around the creation of jobs, primarily


Promoting professional excellence in the water sector The official magazine of the Water Institute of Southern Africa

Water& Sanitation Complete water resource and wastewater management


Monitoring nonsewered sanitation

WISA 2020

#AllHandsOnDeck for water



New platforms for innovation

COVER OPPORTUNITY In each issue, Water&Sanitation Africa offers companies the opportunity to get to the front of the line by placing a company, product or service on the front cover of the magazine. Buying this position will afford the advertiser the cover story and maximum exposure. For more information, contact Hanlie Fintelman on +27 (0)67 756 3132, or email Hanlie.Fintelman@3smedia.co.za

Namibia Please contact the WISA Head Office on admin@wisa.org.za for more information

The ABC logo is a valued stamp of measurement and trust, providing accurate and comparable circulation figures that protect the way advertising is traded. WASA is ABC audited and certified.

through infrastructure investment and implementation, as well as related mass employment programmes. Leading up to the recovery plan was Cabinet’s approval of South Africa’s Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) in May 2020. The IIP focuses on implementation and investment in the immediate, medium and long term, focusing on new infrastructure builds as well as the maintenance of existing infrastructure. The first phase includes projects from all three spheres of government, state-owned enterprises and the private sector. The real concern now is whether municipalities and other institutions still have the capacity to roll out these much-needed projects. As we move forward, it is vital that we recapacitate our municipalities and empower engineers to execute projects and not allow service delivery to be hamstrung by financial and political agendas. The establishment of Infrastructure South Africa (ISA) to drive the implementation of the IIP and assist with blockages, unlock funding and monitor implementation provides some hope that we can bypass the inefficiencies and red tape that often hold projects back. As the single entry point for all infrastructure projects, the ISA is reportedly in the process of building capacity to prepare and package projects, as well as ensure oversight in their implementation. There is also a focus on adapting the infrastructure procurement framework to enable public-private partnerships and unlock new funding mechanisms for major infrastructure investment. As the adage goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It is therefore vital that we get #AllHandsOnDeck to ensure that we implement infrastructure effectively, efficiently and timeously in order to deliver services and grow the economy.


Pushing the limits of plastic pipes November/December 2020 • ISSN 1990-8857 • R55.00 (incl. VAT) • Vol. 15 No. 06

N OV /D E C 2020



Pushing the limits of

plastic pipes

Well-laid plastic pipe has a maintenance-free work life of more than 50 years, and a century in some cases. Built on years of innovation and experience, Sizabantu’s PVC-O pipes present the ultimate future for water and sewer infrastructure.


esearch suggests that as much as 60% of potable water conveyed in aged and damaged infrastructure could be lost from the network and never reach the end-user. “South Africa is a water-scare country; we need to protect our valuable water resources. If we can replace and upgrade existing networks, we will address a major part of the water availability to the citizens of South Africa,” says Sean Harmse, director, Sizabantu Piping Systems. “Sizabantu has been in the water industry for more than 17 years and continues to grow. By bringing new technology and products to the market, we will form an integrated part of South Africa’s water security and supply. Our industry relies heavily on stable and reputable manufacturers to lead it into the next decades,” continues Harmse. By establishing the first factory on the continent producing Molecor TOM 500 PVC-O pipes – one of the most advanced pipes available on the market for the conveyance of highpressure water – Sizabantu has firmly established itself as a market leader.


NOV /DE C 2020

Molecor partnership

Sizabantu’s state-of-the-art factory in Richards Bay is the culmination of a partnership with Spanish company Molecor Canalizaciones, the acknowledged world leaders of biaxial PVC-O pipe technology. Through this joint venture, Molecor and Sizabantu have introduced the latest thermoplastic technology to South Africa, creating new jobs and transferring world-leading skills. Molecor has continued to push the limits with the introduction of a new PVC-O DN 1 000 pipe and the technology for DN 1200. This has positioned Molecor as the manufacturer of the largest PVC-O pipe in the world to date, and the largest PVC-O pipe manufacturer globally. The M-OR-P 5012 system is now a reality, bringing a new machine for high-quality PVC-O pipe manufacturing to the market with unheard of diameters. The first DN 1 000 pipes are now being manufactured in Madrid and the DN 1 200 are expected to be available at the beginning of next year. TOM pipes now cover nominal diameters from 90 mm to 1 200 mm

in 12.5, 16, 20 and 25 bar pressure. Moreover, they are certified in more than 10 countries and are 100% recyclable.

The PVC-O advantage

It is well known that large-size pipes are usually heavy and difficult to handle. But the full range of PVC-O TOM pipes has become the best choice for the pressurised conveyance of water due to their physical and mechanical properties, which are improved during the manufacturing process. PVC-O pipes are lighter and more ductile, allowing for superior installation performance. TOM 500 PVC-O pipes are less than half the weight of PVC and PE pipes, and between 6 and 12 times less per linear metre than cast iron pipes of an equivalent nominal outside diameter. This, together with their ease of connection and watertight joints, ensures the highest-speed installation performance in the market. TOM 500 pipes also have an extremely high resistance to impacts. Moreover, the material creep behaviour is very low, ensuring the durability of the pipe


Molecor DN 1 000 and M-OR-P 5012 mould under operation at its Madrid factory

transport, irrigation, sewerage, fire protection and even industrial applications. Ultimately, TOM pipes and the ecoFITTOM fittings provide the best solution to pressurised water conveyance.

Molecor DN 1 000 mould under operation at its Madrid factory

Local success

working at nominal pressure for over 100 years. They offer lower celerity than other piping systems, which means less water hammer is caused by sudden variations in water volume and pressure. Thanks to molecular orientation, TOM 500 pipes come with a higher internal diameter and greater flow section, contributing to their hydraulic capacity – which is about 15% to 40% greater than pipes made from other materials. Additionally, they have a maximum ductility that enables the pipes to bear big deformations of their internal diameter. These products have also proved to be highly chemically and mechanically resistant to degradation and corrosion. The full range of TOM 500 PVC-O pipes manufactured by Molecor runs from DN 110 to DN 1 200 and can reach pressures from PN 12.5 to PN 25. This includes the ecoFITTOM® PVC-O fittings, providing a full solution that covers all the medium- and highpressure needs of the market. All pipes and fittings can be used in numerous applications, including potable and non-potable water

The introduction of PVC-O locally proved to be an instant success. According to Harmse, there has been a massive swing towards the use of PVC-O pipes in nearly every South African municipality and water board since the introduction of PVC-O to the South African market in 2012. Sizabantu has since supplied pipes to numerous memorable projects, including the City of Polokwane’s Sterkloop Wellfields Infrastructure, where 450 mm PN 25/20 was installed, as well as the Mutshedzi Bulk Water Network in Venda, which used 630 mm and 450 mm PN 20. “This is a clear indication of the confidence that PVC-O has instilled through the hundreds of projects it has been supplied for. Our export into Africa has also seen massive growth, with countries like Zambia, Botswana and Madagascar now insisting on PVC-O,” he says. TOM 500 PVC-O is SANS accredited, giving water authorities quality assurance. In addition, Sizabantu’s SAPPMA membership offers absolute

customer confidence, ensuring the material delivered is always of the highest quality. TOM 500 PVC-O is environmentally friendly and totally recyclable in terms of the SANS 16422 specification. TOM 500 PVC-O also uses less energy when installed, as well as during the manufacturing process, compared to any other pipe material, making it the conscious choice for preserving the environment. Since 2014, Sizabantu has supplied more than 3 800 000 m of TOM 500 PVC-O throughout Southern Africa.


Molecor TOM PVC-O large-diameter pipes in the field N OV /D E C 2020


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A whole new world The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted significant changes, requiring individuals and organisations to quickly adapt and adjust their way of working. Despite the many negative effects, the pandemic has positively brought about a possibly permanent shift in the way we use technology.

Dr Lester Goldman,


ccording to McKinsey & Company, Covid-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point. In other words, it has sped up the adoption of digital technologies by several years and brought about longterm changes. A new McKinsey Global Survey of 899 C-level executives and senior managers – representing the full range of regions, industries, company sizes, and functional specialties – found that companies have accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions, as well as their internal operations by three to four years. Those surveyed expect most of these changes to be long lasting and reported that funding for digital initiatives has increased more than anything else.

Embracing change

The McKinsey survey also found that, during the pandemic, consumers have moved dramatically toward online channels and that, as a result, organisations have rapidly shifted


toward interacting with customers through digital channels. WISA is no exception. When Covid-19 disrupted planning for the WISA 2020 Conference, originally planned for June 2020, we embraced the technology shift and decided to forge ahead with the first ever fully online conference for the South African water sector. As a learning organisation, WISA has learnt, changed and adapted throughout the pandemic, and we hope to leverage these lessons to improve our future offerings. We are confident that this conference will pave the way for new event formats that serve the water sector and our members. We are excited about this new platform and the many opportunities it holds, and we invite you to participate fully as we unpack how we get #AllHandsOnDeck to address the looming water crisis. I encourage you to register by visiting www.wisa2020.org.za.

Technology in the water sector

As we continue to grow and learn in this ever-evolving environment, WISA 2020 offers us an important

opportunity to reflect on the vital role that we play in South Africa’s water future. I hope that, by embracing this digital platform, delegates will be inspired to increase the speed of adoption of new technologies in the water and sanitation sector. New technologies will go a long way in helping to manage our water in smarter ways, reduce leaks, increase efficiencies and explore opportunities for recycling and reuse. This is vital if we are to avoid a potential 17% water deficit by 2030. Let us work together to embrace change and the new world we find ourselves in, in order to speed up delivery and bring purposeful feedback to the leadership of South Africa.

Register for WISA 2020 by visiting www.wisa2020.org.za N OV /D E C 2020





outh Africa’s water and sanitation challenges are getting worse. We are faced with insufficient infrastructure maintenance and investment, recurrent droughts and floods driven by climatic variation, inequities in access to services, deteriorating raw water quality, and a growing water security crisis. This is not due to a lack of technologies and solutions, but rather the result of poor governance and a lack of political will to support and drive technical solutions to practically implement projects. Instead, we have become trapped in a reactive cycle in which government struggles to maintain our existing failing services, which leaves no room to provide new services to the


NOV /DE C 2020

Despite an abundance of well-proven technical solutions, South Africa struggles with the implementation of water and sanitation projects that are innovative and embrace new technologies. To counter this, we must ensure a return to good governance across all stakeholders, government departments and tiers of government, the private sector and communities.

millions who still go without access to basic water and sanitation. The Auditor General’s report paints a very damning picture of governance in South Africa, which is directly linked to our inability to execute basic services. Every local authority has an integrated development plan, and nationally we have an overarching National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, but we are not getting to the practical implementation of these plans. This all comes back to good governance, which is essential to achieving a proactive approach.

risk is the greater issue. Funding is readily available, but only if the project falls within the appropriate risk profile. Many consultants in this sector work at risk, designing proposals

Partnership approach

While fingers often point to a lack of funding for project implementation, I maintain that

Dan Naidoo, chair, WISA

WISA • CHAIR’S COMMENT without a guarantee of funding for the project. The result is an abundance of reports and proposals for projects that never get built. This is not a sustainable model. We need to have the right dialogue and first deal with the governance and socioeconomic issues in order to develop a full understanding of the relevant local authority’s risk profile before presenting technical solutions – because without first addressing the risks, the projects may be doomed to failure, if ever implemented. This lends itself to a partnership approach rather than a bidding one. We must collectively work with government at the local and provincial level to effect projects. This is not a government problem alone; it is a problem for the whole water sector to address.


Similarly, the responsibility for the effective management of water should not sit with the Department of Water and Sanitation alone. Water is critical to all sectors, especially the two that

get the most funding: education and health. And yet, innumerable schools remain without adequate sanitation and millions lack access to clean water to ensure adequate hygiene. Agriculture is the biggest user of water in the country, but we are not driving efficiency measures in this sector. If we did, a saving of just 5% to 10% in agricultural water usage could make a substantial impact on the country’s water availability. This has been effectively done in places like Australia and California without reducing agricultural output. Water is a national asset and should therefore be an item monitored by National Treasury. In fact, it should be an item on the scorecard of every department, across all sectors. This is vital if we are to mitigate the risks to our long-term water security.

Changing attitudes

The fact that water is not strategically managed by all departments, despite it being the golden thread that ties them together, could partly be attributed to a

lack of awareness about our long-term water risks. We saw in Cape Town just how long it took people to reduce their consumption – especially those who can afford to pay higher tariffs. Moreover, when water is available, people generally don’t think about conservation and the longstanding risks. Unfortunately, behaviour change is not easy to implement. The Covid-19 pandemic serves as a good example; despite early adherence, people are increasingly not wearing masks or practising social distancing, even though the threat has not passed. It is vital that we focus on the soft skills, and educate people, including our decision-makers, on the importance of water conservation. This should start at school level where the curriculum needs to be broadened beyond the science of the water cycle to focus on water conservation and the preservation of our natural resources. We must address these challenges if we are to gain traction in the implementation of water and sanitation projects and ensure service delivery for our citizens.


The potential of a youth-driven digital technology revolution Kids nowadays are constantly glued to their phones, tablets or computers, muses Niel Louw, YWP-GP lead.


ounger people have always adopted new technologies earlier and more easily than older generations. According to a 2019 Pew Research study, there is a clear correlation between age and the adoption of technologies, especially digital technologies such as smartphones and the internet. Approximately 93% of Millennials (aged 24 to 39 in 2020) own smartphones and 100% use the internet of things (IoT), compared to 90% and 91% adoption rates for Gen X, and 68% and 85% for Boomers, respectively. Experts put this willingness to embrace new technologies down to the ease of incrementalism in each new advance in computing. The current driver of new digital technologies is just a small step forward every time for young people, particularly Millennials born in the age of personal computers. Therefore, it seems logical and natural to them to embrace new technologies. Furthermore, young people also trust in the positive benefits of technology, as evidenced by a 2019 UK survey, which shows that two in five children, as young as nine years old, believe


NOV /DE C 2020

that technology could and should be used to make a difference in people’s lives. About 61% of the participants saw technology as an enabling tool to learn new skills and 37% saw it as a tool to help other people. These statistics prove the essence of promoting youth involvement, not only as early adopters and innovators of technology, but for the application of technology in improving themselves and others.

Technology in the local water sector The benefit of technology is already apparent. For the first time in history, the WISA 2020 conference will be fully virtual. Although, this has been necessitated by the current Covid-19 pandemic, technology enables the hosting of the conference. The application of technology in the water sector is a key driver in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 6 (universal access to water and sanitation). The lack of technical skills within the sector and scepticism have often been cited as barriers to the adoption of new technologies. This is a gap that Millennials can easily fill and is one of the critical areas that can

benefit the sector and reduce youth unemployment. Several municipalities are still dependent on manual metering, while smart metering creates direct jobs through the manufacturing of these devices and more indirect jobs through service industries. Furthermore, digital technology can positively contribute to multiple other facets of the water sector. For instance, it is self-evident that an efficient water sector requires a skilled and capacitated workforce where the demand for certain skills is appropriately matched by the supply. The development and widespread adoption of e-learning platforms provides world-class learning and upskilling opportunities at costeffective rates to millions of learners and water sector employees across the country. Additionally, the development of integrated databases can provide efficient skills-matching services between the needs of water sector employers and the graduate output of institutions of learning within the country. Another example of the potential benefit of digital technologies is the widespread adoption of smart water


meters and other smart devices, as well as their integration within the water supply chain. The integration of IoT – a network of multiple devices connected and constantly exchanging data over the internet – in our water supply chain has the potential to provide more nuanced, granular and in-depth data about the state of national or local water supply and demand at any given time. Furthermore, it can save us billions of rand annually by curbing non-revenue water, improving customer service

and reducing bulk water spending. In the 2018/19 financial year, South Africa lost about R6.6 billion as a result of water losses through theft (illegal connections), incorrect metering, or leakages as a result of deteriorating water infrastructure.

Integrating technology

Ideally, the systematic integration of digital technology into the various facets of the South African water sector would ultimately serve as the foundational building blocks for a

comprehensive, fully integrated and automated national water security monitoring system. This system would incorporate thousands of weighted water security indicators – from the obvious, such as dam levels, to the obscure, such as increased copper theft and therefore an equally likely decrease in the surety of water supply. This can be monitored and compared in real time to give a snapshot of national water security at any point in time. In a few years, machine learning algorithms will also be able to do billions of calculations of millions of data points, to accurately predict national water security in the short, medium and long term. Based on the leading indicators, problem areas that require intervention will be identified. However, such systems can only be truly realised in the South African water sector by embracing the advancement of digital technologies and by continuously supporting innovation. There is also a need to create an enabling environment through policies, governance, open markets, skills training and investment. Young water professionals are most capable, by virtue of their experience and nature to promote digital transformation. In the end, perhaps it will be the kids who were constantly glued to their phones and computers that might just prove to be the lifeline the South African water sector needs. N OV / D E C 2020


Water and sanitation in Africa AFRICA Water for 10 million people by 2024 New funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) will support global research and practice to improve water security for 10 million people in Africa and Asia by 2024. This sees funding for the University of Oxford’s Reach programme increase to £22.5 million (R469 million). The Reach programme, which began in 2015, aims to improve water security by delivering world-class science to transform policy and practice. It has already improved water security for more than two million people, working with Unicef and in partnership with government, the private sector and academia in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya. Reach is also launching a new Global Strategy for 2020-2024, which recognises the progress to date and identifies gaps to strengthen future work aligned to

four priority themes: climate resilience, institutions, water quality and inequalities. Professors Rob Hope and Katrina Charles, Reach directors, state the Covid-19 pandemic has starkly illustrated how multiple water security risks affect the lives and livelihoods of billions of people across Africa and Asia. “Ensuring water infrastructure functions with affordable, reliable and safe services in these complex environments in times of crisis is critical to protect vulnerable individuals, communities, schools and healthcare facilities. Building water-secure institutions reduces the need for and the cost of emergency funding to avoid unnecessary hardship on the most vulnerable and increases resilience to future risks and shocks,” they said.




Improving WASH services

Scaling up infrastructure

The Greater Accra Metropolitan Area Sanitation and Water Project is supporting Ghana’s efforts to provide 550 000 people in low-income urban communities of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area (GKMA) with improved sanitation and water supply services. Water, sanitation and hygiene facilities will be provided to schools and healthcare facilities and promote handwashing – assisting in combating the spread of Covid-19. Households benefiting from toilets and/or water connections will also receive handwashing facilities and relevant handwashing training. The project is also expected to help strengthen the management of environmental sanitation services in GAMA and GKMA, as well as improve coordination between key agencies and strengthen the capacity and performance of the Ghana Water Company Limited and metropolitan and municipal assemblies by reducing non-revenue water, improving wastewater management, addressing issues of pollution and climate change, and translating development plans into focused actions. Ghana will replicate the successful project approaches in Kumasi, and further expand services to targeted beneficiaries. Overall, targets include providing 250 000 people with household toilets, 200 000 people with institutional sanitation facilities, and 500 000 people with improved water services.

Kenya recently signed two financing agreements for the Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation Project (LVWATSAN). In Kenya’s third largest city, Kisumu, the proximity of Lake Victoria does not automatically ensure access to clean water for the 800 000 residents. The lake currently experiences significant levels of pollution owing to the inadequacy of sanitation infrastructure. LVWATSAN, to be implemented by the Lake Victoria South Water Works Development Agency, will expand the water and sanitation distribution network in Kisumu, including to informal settlements, and expand water supply to the satellite towns of Ahero and Maseno. There will also be a component for water quality monitoring for Lake Victoria, aimed at protecting this shared regional water resource and ensuring that the water treatment process is more efficient. Over 30 000 households will benefit from improved sanitation and more than 15 000 households will benefit from a connection to the water supply grid. Overall, the project is expected to contribute to improved health and reduced infant mortality, strengthen efforts to fight Covid-19, and address poverty in communities faced by a changing climate.

NOV /DE C 2020

AFRICA ROUND-UP Word from around Africa – including the latest industry, project and development news.

ETHIOPIA A laboratory in a suitcase New portable laboratory equipment may provide a time- and cost-effective way to monitor water quality in developing countries. The suitcase-size portable testing laboratory has been tested by researchers from Ethiopia and the UK, who have verified the potential of a portable laboratory to identify waterborne hazards in a faster, easier and cheaper way. The equipment can screen millions of bacteria in water samples without the need to run multiple tests at a time. The cost of the portable equipment, which includes a sequencing device and computer, is £10 000 (R221 000), with additional operational costs for reagents

of about £1 200 (R26 500) per 10 samples. This is significantly cheaper than the conventional benchtop sequencing machine, which costs around £50 000 (R1.1 million). Researchers note that although the portable lab can screen for bacteria likely to be present in water samples, it is not always able to reliably distinguish between species of bacteria that are closely related. However, they believe this less expensive version of the specialist equipment found in state-of-the-art microbiology laboratories should be attractive to African countries with limited resources.

However, the cost of testing remains a major concern, along with the ability of the portable laboratory to comply with standards and regulations.

TANZANIA Improved access for Zanzibar

SIERRA LEONE Bringing water to communities Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, handwashing remains among the most difficult preventive measures for millions of Sierra Leoneans to follow. In fact, access to clean water is still a challenge for many crowded urban settlements across Sierra Leone, where an estimated 2.9 million people live without clean and potable water. The country is still traumatised by some 4 000 deaths caused by the Ebola virus, and flood survivors who live in camps often forsake lockdown measures as they search for clean water. To support these disaster-affected communities, the International Organization for Migration, in collaboration with Sierra Leone’s Office of National Security, has constructed water facilities with the use of Poly Glu, a Japanese water purification system. The solar-powered water plants were installed in five communities, providing access to clean water for drinking and handwashing. Funded by the government of Japan, the water facilities were constructed through the Strengthening Disaster Preparedness, Response and Community Resilience in Sierra Leone Project.

A new report published by the African Development Bank (AfDB) highlights the significant strides made by the Zanzibar Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project, implemented between 2012 and 2018, which has provided water and sanitation services to around 287 000 people. Financed by a US$19 million (R205 million) AfDB loan, the project was rolled out in Saateni and Welezo – two urban areas in the Zanzibar archipelago – where 71% of people now benefit from water supply services. More than 68 km of water supply and distribution mains were rehabilitated and extended, more than 15 meters installed, nearly 4 000 household water meters acquired, and 454 sanitation and hygiene facilities rehabilitated or constructed at elementary schools. A total of 76% of the 30 targeted non-functional boreholes have been rehabilitated and new submersible pumps have been installed. In addition, six new wells have been drilled and new submersible pumps installed. Furthermore, 30 school sanitation and hygiene centres were created. Nine training sessions were held for 117 teachers, 72% of whom were women. As a result, the rate of access to sanitation facilities in schools rose from just 7% in 2012 to 142% in 2020. In addition, 34 353 primary school students have been taught about sanitation and hygiene thanks to the training offered. The report notes that progress towards achieving the project’s initial goals was largely satisfactory. A total of 56 782 m3/day of water is produced, representing 154% of the targeted production quantity of 36 755 m3/day.

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LOCAL EXPERT ACHIEVES INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION A notable player in South Africa’s water industry, Professor Hamanth Kasan, has been named an IWA Distinguished Fellow. Kasan becomes the second South African and the first South African of colour to be honoured with this accolade.


he International Water Association (IWA) is the largest global fraternity of water professionals. IWA Fellows and Distinguished Fellows are members of a unique community comprising global water professionals with international recognition. Distinguished Fellows are recognised for their long-term (at least 10 years) extraordinary contributions to the global water sector and leadership role performed in supporting IWA’s mission and objectives. Kasan, who is the GM: Scientific Services Division at Rand Water and an honorary professor at Durban University of Technology’s Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology, says the accolade has significant meaning for South Africa, Rand Water and himself. “This international honorific recognition is the highest order IWA recognition for extraordinary contributions to the global water sector. It demonstrates that experts from South Africa and the African continent are capable and should be supported to engage and lead at the local, continental and global level,” he says.

Notable achievements

Over the course of his career, Kasan has made outstanding contributions to the local, continental and global water sector. Notably, he was integral to the establishment of the Centre for Water and Wastewater Research at Technikon Natal, 25 years ago. The centre has grown from strength to strength and sustainably adds value to the sector through a proud history of training students,


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publishing research in top-rated journals, and presenting at local, continental and global conferences, including many IWA events. Kasan has taken on many leadership roles, including serving as an advisory council member to two ministers of water and as a board member and chair of the board of directors at the Water Research Commission. Kasan is a longstanding Fellow of the Water Institute of Southern Africa and served on the board of Umgeni Water. Outside of South Africa, he provided leadership for a merger between IWA-ESAR and the African Water Association (AfWA), served as vice-president and president of the AfWA, and is currently a board member of AfWA and chair of the Strategic Capacity Building Committee. Kasan is also providing leadership for the establishment of the first African Water and Sanitation Academy, which will focus on improving the skills and expertise of many water and sanitation practitioners from utilities throughout the African continent. Globally, Kasan has served as an advisory committee member of the UN-Habitat GWOPA Programme, partner to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as served on the Programme Committee of Singapore International Water Week, and as an advisor to the Global Water Partnership. In addition, he was selected and served as vice-president of IWA and currently serves as an IWA board member and member of the Governance Committee.

Future vision Kasan notes that, despite the progress of the water and sanitation sector globally, the sector’s professionals and leaders cannot be complacent and seriously need to mobilise action focused on the inconvenient truth: that 1.8 billion people do not have access to potable water and 2.8 billion people do not have access to sanitation. The Covid-19 pandemic has sharply highlighted this reality and the need to remedy it. “While it may be argued that the adoption of new technologies is relevant, important and overdue, the issue of political will is critical and must be addressed by water leaders and professionals. Lack of political will, poor governance, leadership and unethical practices require serious attention for progress on the SDGs. These challenges necessitate the active participation and engagement of water professionals of all types,” he stresses. “My vision for the future is rapid and meaningful progress on overcoming the inconvenient truth and achieving access to water and sanitation for all. IWA and water professionals globally should be excited by this challenge and IWA and its partners are ideally positioned to connect global experts to focus on alleviating challenges. Ultimately, the efforts of water professionals should be channelled to simultaneously achieve excellence and relevance in order for us all to make the world a better place.”

Southern Africa is facing increasing water demands to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and urbanising population, changing lifestyles, and economic growth. WISA 2020 is calling for #AllHandsOnDeck to address the water crisis caused by insufficient water infrastructure maintenance and investment, recurrent droughts and floods driven by climatic variation, inequities in access to services, deteriorating raw water quality, and a lack of skilled water practitioners. Following the lead of the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, WISA 2020 will unpack six key themes:

Reduce water demand and increase supply

Develop skills and technology innovations and disruptors

Manage resources for a capable ecology

Manage and monitor effective water and sanitation services and infrastructure

Govern and regulate the sector

Improve raw water quality

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Reduce water demand and increase supply South Africa’s water demand continues to grow, and the country may be faced with a deficit of 2.7 to 3.8 billion m3/annum between water supply and demand by 2030 – a gap of about 17%. Zama Siqalaba from the WISA 2020 Technical Committee unpacks the theme ‘reduce water demand and increase supply’.

What are the main challenges in this space? ZS South Africa is a semi-arid country, and our water resources are under increasing pressure from overconsumption, inefficient use, wastage, leakage, inappropriate infrastructure choices, inadequate planning and implementation, as well as population and economic growth. Over time, a culture of infrastructure replacement has developed largely due to neglect and inadequate infrastructure operation and maintenance. The impact of this is felt acutely at the local municipality level, where access to clean safe drinking water remains a challenge. Municipalities lose 1 660 million m³ per year through non-revenue water (NRW) – representing 41% of supply. It is vital that we optimise our existing water resources. Without this, any augmentation is a waste. We still do not have the basics right – sectorising systems, maintaining infrastructure, managing pressure and bulk metering. The low-hanging fruit are still there and there are very few municipalities that have managed to

reduce their NRW to below 20% or manage NRW within acceptable levels for the applicable municipal category. Effectively managing water infrastructure and water-user efficiency requires a consistent and concerted effort at all levels of government, but unfortunately water conservation and water demand management (WC/ WDM) and NRW management are not considered ‘enticing’ and often don’t get the focus they deserve. The main drive behind increasing water supply is to extend the supply footprint. But if we build new infrastructure without a coherent plan on how to manage it, we end up increasing capex for water year-on-year without the desired impact. Essentially, if we are not funding beneficial use, we are funding wastage. Is this getting sufficient attention? The various role players, from national to local government, are aware of the problem and things like NRW and WC/ WDM are well documented. We have all the institutional tools we need; the real challenge is prioritisation.

Unfortunately, we’ve lost beneficial programmes like Blue Drop and No Drop, which were internationally recognised and supported. There is no national campaign to drive water use efficiency and promote conservation, which is what is needed to achieve results. There is a growing discourse around creating new institutional models to develop water use efficiencies. While these discussions are important in driving future infrastructure funding and aspects of NRW management, the sector is not impeded in moving forward and implementing the requisite programmes and strategies long documented to reduce water losses and improve service delivery. Our immediate challenge is not developing new institutions in the water sector but rather to use the existing frameworks to do what we have spoken about for years: manage our water supply; recycle water resources where we can; N OV / D E C 2020


take advantage of the tools, technology and innovation that we have in abundance; and use water efficiently.

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Where do we begin to address the problems? Addressing the current challenges we face in the management of NRW, reducing water demand and increasing supply will require all relevant institutions to commit to carrying out the ‘game plan’. Most municipalities have, through previous No Drop, MuSSA, and benchmarking assessments, developed coherent strategies around the efficient management of their water systems – we simply need to implement them. We need to get the basics right. At the water services authority level, we need to: 1. K now what we are managing – how much water is supplied by the bulk provider, how much is going into the distribution system, and how much is being lost. 2. I dentify the main areas of water loss and the causes. 3. D etermine the tools and expertise required to address NRW. 4. E nsure that the revenue can be recovered to guarantee the sustainability of services. Ultimately, if we can address the basic management issues to support beneficial and productive water use, municipalities and the sector as a whole can truly progress in the implementation of the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan to support socioeconomic development. The decision to support infrastructure expansion should be based on a real need once options for optimal use of current resources have been exhausted. The spirit of WISA 2020 is all about ‘DOING’ – #AllHandsOnDeck for real implementation. Our wish for the future is for the sector to move from analysis and strategy fatigue on to a platform of achieving the desired results, which are to reduce demand and increase water supply.


Manage the resource for a capable ecology South Africa is known for its rich diversity of aquatic ecosystems. Unfortunately, most of our high-value aquatic ecological assets are poorly protected, as is evident by reports on deteriorating river systems, tributaries and wetlands. Chris Swartz from the WISA 2020 Technical Committee unpacks the ‘manage the resource for a capable ecology’ theme.

Why is it important to protect our aquatic ecosystems? CS South Africa’s diverse aquatic ecosystems include freshwater ecoregions, rivers, wetlands and estuaries. Ecologically sustainable water management protects the ecological integrity of ecosystems, while meeting intergenerational human needs for water and sustaining the full array of other products and services provided by natural freshwater ecosystems. Freshwater ecosystems, and the species within them, can improve the quantity and quality of water available. This makes healthy rivers and wetlands vital to water security. Not only do plants and microorganisms help to clean and filter pollution from the water, they also play a crucial role in buffering communities through drought periods and long-term climate variation. What is the current state of South Africa’s aquatic ecosystems? Unfortunately, monitoring programmes are faced with severe challenges – particularly, a lack of capacity and financial constraints. However, SANBI’s

2018 National Biodiversity Assessment shows that rivers and wetlands are among the most threatened ecosystems in South Africa and are currently in poor ecological condition. South Africa has lost approximately 50% of its original wetland area and only around 300 000 wetlands remain, making up just 2.4% of South Africa’s area. Over 70% of our wetland ecosystem types have no protection.

Similarly, the Department of Water and Sanitation’s River Eco Status Monitoring Programme State of Rivers Report 20172018, found that only 15% of South Africa’s rivers are in good condition. Poor sanitation is one of the largest contributors to the deterioration of water resources. Formal and informal developments, mining and farming have caused severe deterioration of riparian zones and in-stream habitats. Other threats to our freshwater ecosystems include over-extraction, pollution from wastewater treatment works, agriculture and stormwater (nutrients, plastics and toxins), invasive alien species, habitat loss and degradation, and climate change. In the case of estuaries, over-fishing represents an additional serious pressure. What are the dangers associated with deteriorating river systems and wetlands? The continued discharge of untreated or insufficiently treated effluent from wastewater treatment plants into our surface water resources is causing irreversible damage to the aquatic ecosystem and to humans. These pollutants decrease the supply of useable water, increase the cost of purifying it, contaminate aquatic resources, and affect food supplies. Many people in developing countries, South Africa included, rely on untreated surface water as their basic source of domestic water supply – a major concern considering surface water is

increasingly under stress and often unsafe for consumption. Furthermore, wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. They play an important role by contributing to flood control, drought relief, water storage, sediment and nutrient retention and export, soil protection, water purification, erosion control, sustained stream flow, food security, fish nurseries, groundwater recharge, biodiversity, cultural value, recreation and tourism, as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation. As our wetlands continue to decline, they fail to fulfil these important functions. The target for SDG 6.3 is to, “by 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimising release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.” We need #AllHandsOnDeck to address strategies, programmes, and the capacity to restore our hard-working ecosystems to sustain and harness their value in the water value chain. N OV / D E C 2020



Govern and regulate the sector

It is vital that the key actors in the water sector work across boundaries to place water at the centre of the future growth and well-being of South Africa. Dr Inga Jacobs-Mata from the WISA 2020 Technical Committee unpacks the theme ‘govern and regulate the sector’. What are the existing governance challenges within the sector? IJ-M The South African water sector faces a myriad of challenges and governance is at the centre of them all. It is only through well-governed institutions that we will achieve the necessary improved performance to recover the sector. There are a great deal of inefficiencies and a lack of accountability and transparency linked to the governance and oversight of the water sector. However, we must remember that governance does not equal government. Achieving the SDGs is not only a government responsibility; we need a multifaceted approach across all sectors of society. In the public sector, we need to improve financial management and technical capacity at both the local and national level. In the private sector, we need greater corporate accountability around water use and water security. In civil society, communities need to play their part in understanding the economic and social value of water. Water scarcity, exacerbated by climatic change, has not made governance measures any easier, and we’ve ended up with a very reactive response to these challenges. Duplicated roles and responsibilities have resulted in inefficiencies, as well as competing interests and demands. We need a clearer understanding of power and functions


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across the entire water cycle, as well as clearer institutional arrangements to advance good governance. How can the various role players better collaborate? There is a dire need for cross-sector, multi-stakeholder partnerships that bring in the public sector, private sector and civil society. Where possible, we need to break down silos; where not, we must learn to work within and across silos to achieve the desired outcome. Water stewardship is a good way to strengthen collaboration, as it calls on all stakeholders to not only understand their own usage, challenges and constraints, but also consider contextual factors beyond the fence line. This requires us to look at shared water security challenges and collaborate to achieve them. The private sector can and has been leading in this space, and we need to focus on bringing public institutions and civil society on board as equal partners. What can we look forward to at the WISA 2020 Conference? One of the interesting topics in this stream is the idea of supported selfsupply. This involves empowering communities to become contractors, financiers and managers of their own small-scale infrastructure developments. We must explore this from a governance

perspective in order to uplift communities and augment water supply in remote areas. Another topic is that of hybrid water law and how we operationalise it. This idea behind hybrid water law comes from the notion that our statutory water law, including the National Water Act (No. 10 of 1998), is based on fundamentally colonial systems. While useful, the implementation of the Act has almost criminalised some of the most vulnerable in our community, namely smallholder farmers who cannot pay for water-use licences. Hybrid water law seeks to create a system that regulates big users while providing more flexible systems based on customary water law for smaller users. We will also explore the waterenergy-food nexus and the governance challenges preventing us from achieving it. I would also like to encourage all speakers and attendees to explore the topic of governance through the lens of Covid-19 and how we enable good water governance in a post-Covid-19 society. Ultimately, it is the roles of our sector leader that are crucial in getting #AllHandsOnDeck for an integrated approach towards a secure water future.

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Clean water easily and sustainably in remote locations


any rural communities, schools and clinics in South Africa still lack access to reliable water supply and rely on unhygienic water from boreholes, rivers or lakes. This no longer needs to be the case. Finnish company Solar Water Solutions has developed an ultra-low consumption, reverse osmosis, water purification system. “SolarRO units run directly with 100% solar power – no batteries, generator or grid is needed,” says Vuokko Laurila from Envirotech Africa, a distributor of the unique water technology in Southern Africa. The system makes clean drinking water without chemicals and emissions, directly from impure rivers, lakes and


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The provision of affordable pristine water in remote and off-grid areas no longer needs to be a challenging task.

saline boreholes or seawater. The production water of the SolarRO units has also been certified as high-standard quality water, and meets WHO standards for excellent drinking water. Due to the variable nature of solar energy, SolarRO’s unique patented technology creates constant pressure for the reverse osmosis process. The automatic, adaptive valve system, ANVS, maximises water production, enabling optimal flow rate throughout the day. The result is the ability to produce clean water with solar power without energy

storage. All units can also be used with a hybrid power source. Solar Water Solutions can reduce the energy cost of desalinated seawater to 1.8 kWh/m3. A single SolarRO hybrid container can produce up to 500 m3/day. The scalable system operates with solar energy during the day and with a generator or grid during the nonsolar hours. Solar Water Solutions has ISO 14001:2015 Environmental and ISO 9001:2015 QMS certifications.

Zero emissions

This local solution supplies safe water to people living in remote areas without electricity, with no need to transport water. The need for singleuse plastic bottles is also minimised.


SolarRO water purification units can be combined with the Lorentz SmartTAP app – an off-grid water dispensing and management system enabling revenue collection, water entitlement and sustainable water provision. A simple graphical display allows users to comfortably operate it without training. Users of the system access water using a tag.

Hitting UN SDGs

The Solar Water ATMs tackle at least five out of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely: Clean Water and Sanitation, Climate Action, Affordable and Clean Energy, Good Health and Well-being, and Gender Equality. Women and children are typically the ones who spend hours carrying water. A broader interpretation could include five or six more SDGs, which shows how essential clean, affordable water is for all aspects of life.

Successful rural plant in Kenya

SolarRO water purification units were installed in drought-stricken Kenya early this year. The unmanned Solar Water ATMs enable locals to vend water using a simple mobile payment, lowering the threshold and price of getting drinking water. SolarRO units now give access to 13 m3/day of WHO-standard drinking water to customers in Kitui County at less than R2 per 20 ℓ canister.

Future business model for provision of water in rural Africa?

Solar Water Solutions is going a step further by providing a business model in which Solar Water ATMs create a steady revenue flow for infrastructure investors, impact investors and franchise entreprenuers. By creating the business opportunity, Solar Water Solutions plant enables investors to increase their efforts for a positive impact, leading to better availability and access to drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa.

Sea water

SolarRO technology has also been proven in Namibia in 2019. Namibia’s first-ever fully solar-powered desalination system, which makes highquality water straight from the ocean, was commissioned as a joint initiative of the University of Nambia and the University of Turku, Finland. The new SolarRO plant produces safe water for drinking and irrigation purposes. The decentralised system is situated close to the beach and installed in a container. The modular and scalable system produces 3 500 litres of water per hour from the ocean with zero energy and without any batteries during non-solar hours.

*Image credit: Solar Water Solutions

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A NEW PLATFORM FOR INNOVATION The Water Research Commission (WRC), in partnership with the South African Local Government Association (Salga), has launched the Water Technology and Innovation Forum (TIF) to explore the challenges and opportunities for advancing the technology landscape at the municipal level.


ccording Salga, an analysis of 18 site-specific decision scenarios indicated that 44% of treatment plants in South Africa employ inappropriate or less suitable technologies when matched to their resource base, capacity to manage, and effluent quality requirements. As much as 33% of the plant technologies employed may not be the best fit for the operational and management environment, while only 22% are deemed to employ suitable and sustainable technology options. Technology trends indicate a move away from simpler, low-maintenance systems in smaller and/or rural municipalities and are driven mainly by the choice between capital versus full cost, available standards and the preference in plant design. The importance of using technology and innovation in the water and sanitation sector lies in the opportunity of improving the efficiency of water service institutions such as municipalities and waterboards, as well as in addressing the national water sector challenges. South Africa needs to do business differently in order for the sector to be resilient, impactful and efficient. This requires greater


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encouragement for water institutions to strengthen their research and innovation divisions, efforts and investment. To this end, the TIF will serve as a collaborative platform for municipal partners to share their innovation needs, mobilise partnerships and jointly conceptualise programmes, projects and funding. Speaking at the virtual launch of the TIF, Dhesigen Naidoo, chief executive of the WRC, highlighted that the partnership-led forum seeks to enable some critical pillars, among these being setting up and expanding a network of test beds for groundbreaking water and sanitation solutions emanating from South Africa and the global research, development and innovation partnership. “We want South African districts, towns and cities to be among the leaders in sustainable water and sanitation solutions,” he said.

Supporting SDG 6

The UN’s SDG progress reports indicate that for Africa and South Africa, the pace of development and the delivery of water and sanitation solutions is not at a rate that will guarantee universal access to clean water and safe sanitation for all by 2030. This is in

line with global trends and, to tackle it, the UN has launched the Global Acceleration Framework for SDG 6 in order to catalyse actions in the global

“Trying to solve 21st century problems with 20th century technology and 19th century operating rules is doomed to failure.” Dhesigen Naidoo, CEO, Water Research Commission

SDG project. This framework is categorised by five key pillars: 1. Finance 2. Capacity building 3. Governance 4. Data and information 5. Innovation. According to Naidoo, the inclusion of the last two pillars – data and information, and innovation – is prompted by the realisation that trying to solve 21st century problems with 20th century technology and 19th century operating rules is doomed to failure. “We must harvest the best that is available in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) toolbox in order for us to be able to turn these new forms of intelligent control systems, big data enhanced design, planning and implementation, artificial-intelligencedriven monitoring, and evaluation and behaviour modification into better practice, smart and more efficient water use, and wastewater treatment,” he said. Naidoo pointed out that one of South Africa’s ironies is that it has remained a top 20 producer of new knowledge, technologies and solutions worldwide in the domain of water and sanitation over the last three decades. But despite this, the country has a record of limited upscaling and commercialisation of these groundbreaking innovations. He sees the TIF as a critical

intervention to reverse this and hopes it will create a positive knock-on effect in Africa and the rest of the developing world. It is also hoped that the platform will further stimulate the private sector to invest in developing and manufacturing new technology products for the local, continental and global markets. “The demonstrated test bed network in our own municipalities will significantly de-risk the enterprise and attract investors – both foreign and domestic,” said Naidoo. However, he cautioned that access to advanced solutions and 4IR tools is not enough. For this reason, the TIF also focuses on creating: - a knowledge and learning partnership network among municipal officials, significant users, and the general public - bridges to influence decision-making - strengthened collaborative partnerships to improve chances for increased funding and resources to enhance water and sanitation delivery at local level. “Let us, through this Local Government Technology and Innovation Forum, help to stimulate the investments, financial and political, and actions by all parties that enable our municipalities to become the theatres of change and transformation for a better South Africa and a better greener future,” Naidoo concluded.


Getting the basics right first The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the internet of things, artificial intelligence – all buzzwords describing the very rapid move towards a society where we rely more and more on technology to assist us in our daily lives. But are our treatment plants keeping pace? By Dewald van Staden*


or a second, imagine a workplace without an internet connection or even a computer – a workplace where even basic stationery is hard to come by. Imagine a workplace where the bulk of the equipment is in excess of 10 years old and in a complete state of disrepair. Although this might describe only a handful of South Africa’s water and wastewater treatment works, it does highlight the vast technology gap that exists on the ground. When we consider the uptake of technology and automation at our water services works, we must be cognisant of the fact that making a sudden leap from such an outdated plant into this technology-filled world may simply not be all that viable. While we can all agree that there is a place for technology at these facilities, we need to consider some of the practicalities behind the implementation of high-tech solutions.


Generally speaking, the maintenance of equipment at our water and wastewater treatment works seems to be a very low priority. Instead of preventative


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maintenance, the norm is to run the equipment to failure and then perform reactive maintenance. This is a major source of concern when it comes to the sustainable operation of these plants. If the status quo continues, and we do not address the systems that allow the situation to remain unchanged, we surely cannot expect highly sophisticated technology to be maintained in a way that will ensure that it remains in optimal working order – an indication that some of the plants themselves might not be ready for a technology uptake.


However, treatment works do not perform poorly purely due to neglected equipment – the skills shortage is all too real. When we talk about a skills shortage, it is both from a training or qualification perspective as well as having the correct number of personnel on-site. Technology is now able to assist with the remote monitoring of plants, allowing process control specialists to dial in from anywhere in the world and assist plant personnel. However, sensors

and artificial intelligence cannot replace the inputs from a properly skilled and experienced process controller. Technology cannot replace the inputs that these champions can provide by simply walking around the plant, looking and listening for clues as to small process changes that need to be made in order to ensure the optimal performance of a plant – assistance to plant personnel: yes; replacing of process controllers: never. When we get back to the actual operation of high-tech equipment on our water services works, we also need to take note of the fact that specialised equipment needs specialised operations and training. In order to prepare our process controllers for this, training modules dealing with automation have been included in the updated training curriculum for the occupation of process controller and will form part of the skills that the process controller of the future will need to have.

Looking into the future

Although technology is all around us and very much a part of our daily lives, we still have a long way to go in getting


our water services works and personnel to a point where they are ready to embrace and value technology and the advantages it can bring. Similarly, we still have quite a way to go to get to a point where process controllers not only have a firm foundation of understanding the basic principles behind controlling the processes that they are responsible for, but also truly utilise the high-tech

solutions that are out there to assist them with these tasks. That being said, it is high time for South Africa’s water and wastewater works to rise from the ashes, for a new generation of process controllers to stand up and take control of these plants and bring them into the modern age. It might be quite a mountain to climb but, if we take it one step at a time, we will get there – we will get to

a point where we have plants that we can proudly say form part of this Fourth Industrial Revolution.

*Dewald van Staden is the Western Cape lead: Process Controller at WISA.



ULTRAFILTRATION FEEDWATER VARIATION No impact on treated water quality and can handle variations of up to 20% of design parameters

High turbidity causes leakage of solids through filter

AFTER BACKWASH No solids leakage due to impermeable barrier created between the filtrate and feedwater. Air scouring ensures that maximum particles are removed, as turbulence on the membrane surface is high


FLOW RATE CHANGE No impact on water quality due to the impermeable barrier created between the filtrate and feedwater

Solids can leak into upstream treatment because of solids shedding. Sand filters generally do not utilise air scouring, thus lowering the potential of solids removal during backwash

Sheds solids if flow rate increases, as sieving, interception, adhesion and flocculation cannot retain all particles filtering through

FIGURE 1 Ultrafiltration and sand filtration on a microscopic

level (feed stream completely isolated for UF)

FINE PARTICLES > 4 log removal for 0.2 µm particles (0.005-0.5 µm)

3 TO 14 UM

1 log removal for 2 µm particle and 2 logs when

assisted with dosing

FIGURE 2 Giardia and cryptosporidium cysts


For removal of suspended solids, dissolved solids, bacteria (including pathogens), viruses and organic material

US$0.02 per m3 for treatment of plant of 20 MLD. This benefit will assist in paying of capex incurred initially. To replace modules is also far easier than with sand filters, as they are easier to handle due to smaller size

US$0.001 per m3 to filter 0.04 m3/day over 10 years (slow sand filtration). This equates to $500 per 20 MLD treated. $0.05 per m3 for 15-year operations (rapid sand filtration). Assuming that this is also for 20 MLD, rapid sand filtration increases operational expenditure

FURTHER PRE-TREATMENT STEPS REQUIRED No further pretreatment steps required and can serve as an effective pre-treatment for reverse osmosis systems. Ensures longer operability of reverse osmosis systems

Additional bag filters (even ultrafiltration membranes) or further coagulation required. All these pre-treatment methods cannot ensure the entrainment of smaller particles to the reverse osmosis system

Technology has developed to such an extent that UF plants are becoming more attractive from a capex point of view and are even competitive compared to sand filters (Memcor)

Higher capital cost for slow sand filtration systems makes it a less

attractive option for water treatment (Hoslett, et al., 2018)

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION GUIDELINES Meets WHO standards (submicron pore size ensures that giardia and cryptosporidium cannot be entrained in the feed stream, see Figure 2)

Shows mixed results. In a few cases, the remaining contaminant concentration meets WHO guidelines (Hoslett, et al., 2018)

retained a Memcor UF membrane wall

SILT DENSITY INDEX < 3 on 20-minute basis

3-5 (average) on 15-minute basis

FOOTPRINT Small Larger footprint footprint (big bulky (UF plant tanks required covers less and bed loads than half need to be the area per designed MLD than is exactly) covered by sand filter)

CLEAN IN PLACE No rinse cycle required, which increases overall recovery raw water entering the system

Extra rinse cycle required, meaning a

drainage of feedwater, leading to lower recovery from raw water N OV / D E C 2020





Wayne Safety started manufacturing gumboots an incredible 80 years ago, with Wayne Rubber producing rubber gumboots in KwaZulu-Natal. This began a long tradition of manufacturing superiorquality gumboots and serving workers at the heart of industry. Today, Wayne is the largest and leading PVC and PU gumboot manufacturer in Africa*.


ince 1940, we have focused on what we do best – gumboots, and gumboots alone – enabling us to emerge as specialists in our field and pioneers in both innovation and quality. Wayne has become a firm favourite in some of the toughest industries. Miners have worn our iconic Egoli gumboot for almost 40 years, fondly referring to them as mdala-scathu (mdala iscathulo), which loosely translates to ‘the old-timer shoes’, because they have stood the test of time. An African first We were the first gumboot manufacturer in Africa to install our own PVC compounding plant, which allowed for greater quality control and a quicker manufacturing process. In 2014, Wayne became the first (and proudly remains the only) PU gumboot manufacturer in Africa.

Over the years, we have worked on reducing our carbon footprint in line with our objective of sustainability, and today we produce 35% of all our gumboots from recycled materials. Our Duralight 1 is well recognised in agricultural sectors and incorporates a mix of virgin and recycled PVC that results in a superior, yet cost-effective, recycled gumboot our customers can trust and rely on. A global footprint In 2015, we were the first to introduce a fully integrated metatarsal PVC gumboot to market that was EN20345-accredited. Our gumboots are compliant with all safety standards and regulations, and are manufactured in an ISO 9001 accredited factory to ensure unrivalled quality. This has enabled us to compete with international brands and broaden our global footprint to over 40 countries worldwide.

After 80 years of specialised gumboot manufacturing, innovation and technical achievement, Wayne remains a proudly South African company that supports and services the local economy, establishing ourselves as part of the history of our great country and continent. Today, Wayne is the number one choice in Africa across both PVC and PU gumboots – from mining and agriculture to food processing and hygiene.

*Wayne has been manufacturing gumboots in South Africa since 1940 – no other manufacturer on the continent has supplied more industrial and safety gumboots into the African market.

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Sustainable sanitation and climate change

14.1 million

South Africans do not have access to safe sanitation

Climate change is making it more difficult to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030. This World Toilet Day, we focus on sustainable sanitation and climate change.


he effects of climate change are becoming more frequent and more extreme. The result is increasing floods, droughts and rising sea levels, all of which pose a threat to sanitation systems – from toilets to septic tanks and treatment plants. Floodwater, for example, can damage sanitation infrastructure and spread human waste into water supplies, food crops and homes. As these incidents become more frequent, they could pose public health emergencies and degrade the environment. Billions of people still live with weak and vulnerable sanitation systems, or none at all. The UN’s view is that climate change will disrupt or destroy sanitation services for huge numbers of people if action is not taken now. Everyone must have sustainable sanitation, alongside clean water and handwashing facilities, to help protect and maintain health security and stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases like Covid-19, cholera and typhoid.

Sustainable sanitation

Globally, 80% of wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. SDG target 6.3 requires us to “improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimising release of


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hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.” Improving the management of human waste is key to reducing the impact of poorly treated wastewater, providing healthy water environments and creating sustainable livelihoods. In addition, most water and sanitation services around the world are water- and energy-intensive, and result in greenhouse gas emissions. By increasing the efficiency of these systems, and reducing unnecessary water consumption and losses, we can reduce energy use and therefore lower emissions. Sustainable sanitation begins with a toilet that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible and dignified setting. The safe reuse of this waste can help to save water, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and can provide agriculture with a reliable source of water and nutrients. Biogas from human waste can also be captured and used for greener energy generation.

World Toilet Day

On 19 November, the world celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. Improving access to sanitation and handwashing


of SA households still use bucket toilets

Around 4 500 schools in SA still have pit latrines


of wastewater treatment works are in a poor or critical condition

facilities can reduce infection and mortality rates, particularly in maternal and child health. Hygienic, private bathrooms with clean, running water, sinks and soap will also help women and girls manage menstruation safely and with dignity. Without safely managed, sustainable sanitation, people often have no choice but to use unreliable, inadequate toilets or practise open defecation.

Information source: www.worldtoiletday.info

SANITATION Over half of the global population or

4.2 BILLION PEOPLE lack safe sanitation

2 IN 5 SCHOOLS around the world lacked basic handwashing facilities prior to the Covid-19 pandemic

Around 297 000 children under five die annually from diarrhoeal diseases due to poor hygiene, poor sanitation or unsafe drinking water


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Globally, 80% of the wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused

of the global population (three billion people) lives without basic handwashing facilities at home

By 2050, up to 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year

If we limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we could cut climate-induced water stress by up to 50%

By 2050, the number of people at risk of floods will increase to 1.6 billion

Extreme weather has caused more than 90% of major disasters over the last decade

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The Zerho Waterless Toilet is a self-contained waterless system that hygienically converts human waste into a useful ingredient for fertiliser. Suitable for most locations Dignity, hygiene, child-safe Compact and lightweight Environmentally friendly Supports up to 8 people Uses air and sunshine Low-maintenance Quick installation Water-saving

+27 (0)72 819 2060 janice@zerho.co.za


SANITATION Some 14.1 million South Africans are still without access to safe sanitation. To help address the crisis, Zerho Waste Management is working to roll out childsafe, waterless toilets to communities in rural Limpopo.


outh Africa faces a number of challenges in the provision of sanitation infrastructure. With sewered sanitation being impractical in many parts of the country, safe, off-grid, dry toilet solutions are vital to provide dignified sanitation. The Zerho Toilet provides such a solution in a uniquely sustainable way. The Zerho Toilet is a dry sanitation system with urine diversion that serves as an eco-sensitive replacement for pit


Making an IMPACT in rural communities and chemical bucket latrines. The self-contained unit requires no chemicals or additives, using only air flow and solar heat to dry the solid waste and dispose of odours. Designed with easy maintenance in mind, the system does not require a high level of technical expertise from the user or maintenance crews. The toilet system is made of polyethylene, ensuring it is durable and offering sustainable use for up to 50 years. Most top structures can be adapted to house the toilet, which can be installed quickly and easily in any soil conditions and in small spaces. Entrepreneurial activities The urine diversion also offers the potential for job creation in local communities, specifically focused on empowering women. “Monetising toilet resources often overcomes the resistance to the subject of human waste. Through proper education and sensitisation, we can add value to communities’ micro-economies,” says Janice Whitehead of Zerho. Because liquids and solids are kept separate, there is no sludge, ensuring greater hygiene and safety, as well as

alleviating groundwater pollution. No composting takes place in the faecal containment chamber, where the faeces are desiccated by air flow and solar heat on the exterior section of the unit. Urine contains many nutrients – such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – making it a valuable fertiliser. The dry faeces can be similarly repurposed. However, Whitehead stresses the importance of sensitising the recipient community to the product and procedure, without whom the work will not be sustainable. Users are trained to treat the toilet resources themselves and use them in soil regeneration and agriculture. Limpopo project Zerho is currently working on a project to provide toilets to more than 7 000 homes in rural Limpopo, where the traditional pit latrine is the norm. Whitehead explains that the toilets will be installed in individual homes where they can be used by up to 10 users. The project follows an extensive community action plan started in 2019 to introduce the product and implementation plan. Zerho has received the support of the local tribal authorities and municipal councillor. Users will be trained to manage the system, which will include all aspects pertaining to sanitation and hygiene. “We have adopted a collaborative model that puts the community first,” says Whitehead. Community liaison officers are vital to this process, ensuring community buy-in and acceptance before the toilets are installed. Zerho is also implementing a ‘train-the-trainer’ programme, which will ensure adequate user training. “South Africa’s sanitation problem is not going away on its own; we need to ensure that we deliver sustainable, environmentally friendly basic services. The Zerho waterless toilet is a once-off, cost-effective, robust, eco-sanitary product that can replace the current rudimentary sanitation programmes and bring dignity to our people,” concludes Whitehead. N OV / D E C 2020



TACKLING COVID-19 IN NON-SEWERED COMMUNITIES Tracking Covid-19 in wastewater is now well established. But with nearly two billion people worldwide using non-sewered sanitation (NSS), local researchers have begun to develop a Covid-19 surveillance tool for our most vulnerable communities. Danielle Petterson speaks to the Water Research Commission (WRC) team spearheading this initiative.


ollowing the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, countries around the world, including South Africa, undertook research to determine whether SARSCoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) is detectable in wastewater. Locally, a proof of concept study conducted by the WRC saw samples taken from 10 wastewater treatment works (WWTW) serving hotspot metropolitan areas in five provinces over a four-week period. The genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected in 98% of wastewater samples collected, confirming and demonstrating the power of wastewater surveillance in the fight against Covid-19.

While the detection of the genetic material of the virus that causes Covid-19 does not mean that there is a viable, disease-causing virus in wastewater, it can provide an indication of Covid-19 hotspots within a sewered boundary. This is of particular importance for the detection of asymptomatic cases. Driving NSS research Wastewater surveillance is considered a cost-effective and less invasive means of continuous screening, but research to date has focused on sewered settlements; however, around two billion people across the globe use NSS.

Sudhir Pillay, research manager: Sanitation, WRC, points out that no city in South Africa is 100% sewered, and many developing countries have a large portion of the population using NSS. Moreover, in non-formalised settlements, the shared use of water and sanitation facilities is common, making it harder to practise social distancing and maintain high levels of Covid-related hygiene. Further, greywater – water generated from washing and cleaning activities – can pool in settlements if there is no sewer system available. As a result, densely populated NSS settlements could be a potential hotspot for viral transmission. Now, a new proof of concept study by the WRC has provided a breakthrough in the surveillance of non-sewered settlements. Grab samples were taken from three rivers in Gauteng downstream of informal settlements, as well as from surface run-off within an informal settlement. The results have shown proof of concept in terms of both of SARS-CoV-2 RNA recovery and positive gene amplification in the samples, which were found to have a high level of contamination with untreated or poorly treated wastewater. All samples were positive for at least two gene targets of SARS-CoV-2. This outcome therefore offers a high possibility for Covid-19 surveillance in non-sewered settlements. The next steps On 1 October 2020, the WRC, with funding support from the Grundfos


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Foundation, began Phase 2 of this initiative: pilot-scale monitoring. Partnerships for pilot-scale monitoring have been established between laboratories, municipalities, the Department of Water and Sanitation, the private sector, and research organisations. This will see the scaling and commissioning of a collaborative monitoring initiative in provincial hotspots using the sampling and testing protocols developed in Phase 1. According to Pillay, the programme will be rolled out in around 20 informal settlements across four provinces. “Now that we know we have detected the virus RNA in a non-sewered environment, we need to demonstrate the use of this method as part of a city-wide surveillance tool for the spread of Covid-19 infections,” he says. “This is complementary to current initiatives of individual testing, by offering the benefits of early warning and heatmaps, as well as tracking the spread of the virus in communities. The economics of this surveillance method are very attractive and can assist by predicting the second and third waves more cost-effectively through the development of a sampling framework for various types of NSS. Ultimately, we want to contribute to managing the pandemic in South Africa.” Dr Chantal Ramcharan-Kotze, business development and innovation, WRC, believes that the water-quality- and wastewater-based surveillance and Covid-19 tools under development will provide an emerging-market perspective, as well as an opportunity to grow jobs and a cohort of skills. “We’ve realised through the Covid-19

pandemic that none of the sectors can work in silos. We had to come together through multiple partnerships to very quickly resolve some of the issues we were dealing with and respond to our urban, peri-urban and rural areas when it comes to the pandemic and the impact of water access and water quality. The WRC has established partnerships to ensure that what we produce through our research and innovation platforms and investments provides good outcomes and learnings for South Africa and other developing countries,” she says.

“Now that we know we have detected the virus RNA in a non-sewered environment, we need to demonstrate the use of this method as part of a city-wide surveillance tool for the spread of Covid-19 infections.”

A larger programme Ramcharan-Kotze believes this initiative and the resultant learnings can help South Africa to determine how it responds to other infectious diseases as well as plan for and improve future infrastructure in the developing context. According to Jay Bhagwan, executive manager: Water Use and Waste Management, WRC, the wastewater surveillance studies to monitor the spread of Covid-19, both sewered and non-sewered, form the basis of a larger vision to establish a national surveillance system into the future, which will also assist with tracking and managing many other emerging pathogens and contaminants in our water environments. The concept of screening municipal wastewater and environmental water quality as an epidemiological tool for

viruses is not new. It has already been used to inform infectious disease surveillance and mitigation, detect early virus outbreaks, determine antimicrobial resistance, monitor the use of licit and illicit drugs, and detect various chemical contaminants. Wastewater surveillance has not yet been significantly institutionalised in South Africa; however, Bhagwan reports that there is political will from national departments to do so. “With the promulgation of legislation to give mandate for national surveillance, we hope that this platform will become a significant and novel surveillance tool in the country. Our studies to date form the building blocks for growing this platform,” he explains. “The Grundfos Foundation’s contribution helps us to escalate science in an area of global interest. Many developing countries don’t have sewers or wastewater treatment works, so we are opening up opportunities for surveillance in these countries.”



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+27 (0)83 226 8572




WATER QUALITY TESTING AT YOUR FINGERTIPS A new, affordable and easy-to-use tool is placing water quality testing in the hands of ordinary citizens.


outh Africa is experiencing significant impacts on water quality from mining, industry, agriculture, settlements, and even poorly operated and maintained municipal wastewater treatment works. Exacerbated by climate change, deteriorating water quality is putting human and animal health at risk. This is especially the case for many rural communities who rely on water directly from dams and rivers. In an effort to address the problem of unmonitored water sources and to empower users to drink safe water, the iLab water test kit was designed for nonscientific field operatives to do a basic water quality screening. Developed by Professor Esta Van Heerden, extraordinary professor: Centre for Water Sciences at North-West University, the iLab water test kit can detect the presence or absence of E.coli and faecal coliforms, and even total coliforms. In addition, it can be used to indicate industrial or agricultural impacts, or determine semi-quantitive chemicals, metals and additives in water.


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An SA-friendly solution “This product has great merit, as it allows for ordinary citizens to verify the safety of their water, both in urban and rural communities. The product can also be used by rural municipalities that have many plants located in remote areas far away from accredited laboratories,” notes Ayesha Laher, one of iLab’s expert advisors. Notably, the low cost for the three microbial tests is only 15% of the typical costs of laboratory prices and makes this an affordable solution for even struggling municipalities. In addition, the tests do not require any additional laboratory equipment or trained personnel. The kit is very user-friendly. The iLab water testing kit also comes with the use of iLab Dashboard, which has been specifically designed to make it easier to interpret test results. The dashboard enables users to capture all results of the tests with photos and then uses a basic interpretation matrix to determine the safety of

water for a particular use. In addition, the dashboard enables users to: • extract specific data from a type of test • export all data into a spreadsheet to compile custom reports • monitor and manage field workers performing tests • access experts to answer specific or technical questions • make scientific tests understandable for everyone • extract data as manager or group leader per test, per town, per province, per project. The kit, which comes with a full set of instructions, including video guidance, is ideal to test water for human and animal consumption, recreational usage or irrigation purposes. The test methods have been verified by an accredited laboratory.

For more information, visit www.ilabwater.co.za.


Hartbeespoort continues water hyacinth fight Despite recent setbacks, work to curb the water hyacinth problem at Hartbeespoort Dam using biological control is proving successful.


uring 2018, the Centre for Biological Control (CBC) at Rhodes University began a campaign to inundate Hartbeespoort Dam (HBD) with the water hyacinth planthopper, Megamelus scutellaris, a biological control agent of water hyacinth (Pontederia crassipes). The objective was to manage the infestation of the water hyacinth that was covering large areas of the dam, in the absence of herbicide control. Although the dam is situated on the Highveld, and the water is highly nutrient-enriched from wastewater, an unprecedented reduction in the water hyacinth was recorded between January and March 2020. This was caused by the cumulative feeding from several biological control agents of water hyacinth, including M. scutellaris and the water hyacinth weevils (Neochetina eichhorniae and N. bruchi) – all of which are host-specific herbivores of the water hyacinth plant. Due to the biological control, the cover of water hyacinth fell to as low as 2.5% over the winter of 2020. However, the cumulative effects of the cold winter and the sparse populations of plants that the insects rely on for food meant that the number of biological control agents was greatly reduced over winter. As a result, the plants are beginning to regrow from the large seed bank that exists within the sediment, as each water hyacinth flower can produce thousands of seeds that remain viable

for many years. With water hyacinth having been present on the dam for almost 50 years, there is an extensive, established seed bank. The seedlings will not have been exposed to the insects yet, and are therefore growing rapidly as temperatures increase, causing concern among the residents of Hartbeespoort. Current and future plans Biological control is the most effective and cost-efficient method of controlling invasive water weeds, while being entirely eco-friendly and sustainable. To encourage the use of biological control in the management strategies for HBD, the CBC has set up several facilities around the dam with willing partners. This includes the Harties Foundation, which will mass-rear the insects nearer to the dam, where they can be strategically and regularly released. However, because of the high nutrient status of the water, which feeds the water hyacinth growth, rapid increases of the plants are expected from time to time while the insect populations work to catch up. The CBC is implementing an augmented release strategy that involves the continuous release of the insects to inundate the plants. This is done as soon as the insect populations grow to high enough numbers to facilitate these releases from the rearing facilities. There is no quick way to reduce water hyacinth at present and, until the seed banks are depleted, which will take years, regrowth will remain a reality.

Eradicating the plant is also highly unlikely due to the size of the dam and the extensive seed bank in the sediment. However, the CBC aims to keep the weeds below a level that is damaging, using biological control, so that the dam remains open for use. Biological control can also help reduce flowering, thus ensuring fewer seeds are introduced into the system. Frederick Botha, technical advisor to the Hartbeespoort Rehabilitation Steering Committee, feeding insects at the rearing facilities

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AUDITS When lockdown necessitated the introduction of virtual audits, opportunities arose for innovation, improved processes and future methodologies. By Danielle Petterson

Virtual audits hold new opportunities


outh Africa’s Blue, Green and No Drop programmes received worldwide recognition for their incentive-based regulation approach. Although the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has not enforced these programmes for several years, numerous municipalities and water utilities have adopted the Green Drop (GD) audit criteria as an internal standard to measure and drive continuous improvement in wastewater management. One such organisation is ERWAT, which provides bulk wastewater conveyance and treatment to thousands of industries and more than 3.5 million people. A consortium appointed by ERWAT under a three-year contract has been conducting GD audits for the organisation. This consortium is headed jointly by Water Group Holdings and AHL Water, supported by specialist subconsultant Emanti Management, which provides IT and development support, and brings vast auditing experience to the table. The consortium is responsible for: • quarterly GD audits of ERWAT’s 19 wastewater treatment works (WWTWs) • development, implementation and tracking of Wastewater Risk Abatement Plans • development, implementation and tracking of GD Improvement Plans for all 19 WWTWs • quarterly reporting of GD performance to top management and its municipal


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partners to ensure continuous improvement in the operation and management of the WWTWs • intermittent training as/where knowledge gaps are identified. “We must applaud ERWAT for having the vision to continue with GD audits. In this way, ERWAT continues to drive its internal performance objectives and remains in a state of readiness when the DWS announces the continuance of the national GD programme,” says Marlene van der Merwe-Botha, director, Water Group Holdings.

Introducing the virtual audit

The consortium’s final year 3 quarter 4 audits, for the period April to June 2020, occurred during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. Given the travel restrictions and social distancing requirements, remote auditing was the best option. According to Ayesha Laher, director, AHL Water, specifications for remote auditing are already included in ISO 19011:2018 – Guidelines for auditing management systems. A remote audit includes all aspects of the conventional audit utilising internet platforms such as Skype or Zoom and cloud-based data sharing services such as Mimecast, Dropbox and OneDrive. The team followed an approach of targeted verification audits, preceded by an online audit conducted on information shared online, as outlined in Figure 1. According to Shawn Moorgas, director, Emanti Management, preparation was

essential for the success of the virtual audit process. The consortium team wrote up a protocol for the virtual audits and engaged with ERWAT to plan the way forward. Prior to starting the virtual audit, the team established a database that captures all the information needed for each of the audit criteria, along with the relevant portfolio of evidence. The ERWAT teams were given 1.5 weeks to populate the database, which was reviewed by the inspectors who drew up their first assessment scorecard. This was given back to the teams to review and prepare for the actual virtual audit. “To maximise concentration and participation, we kept the virtual meetings to a maximum of 1.5 hours, focusing on key criteria within each scorecard, and each ERWAT team was given their own slot,” says Moorgas. Photos were key to the virtual site inspection. Two inspectors, along with works personnel, performed a walkthrough, completed forms, and raised questions for the lead inspectors. The photos were uploaded for review and discussed during the virtual meetings. The team believes further opportunities exist to use video in the future. “If you take enough pictures, you can be anywhere in the world and see the challenges a WWTW is facing. And it provides you with a means to benchmark faults for review in the next site inspection,” adds Moorgas.

AUDITS Challenges and feedback

Overall, the process was a resounding success. The virtual audit approach received an overwhelmingly positive response from ERWAT personnel, with 90% indicating a score >8/10 (with 1 being poor and 10 being excellent). Feedback indicated, among others, that the virtual audits promoted increased understanding of the GD requirements and information required, forced improved data quality, reduced the burden of storage and transport of hard copies of information, contributed to building institutional memory with a centralised cloud-based database, increased participation and allowed auditors sufficient time for the process. Furthermore, the provision of draft scorecards before the actual audit provided plant personnel with the opportunity to evaluate scores and identify discrepancies, while targeted verification provided a platform to discuss discrepancies and why criteria were not met. Lastly, it promoted continuous improvement as plant personnel are given a second chance to submit outstanding information. The biggest drawback for most respondents was a lack of face-to-face interactions with the audit team, which present opportunities to gain knowledge and improve understanding on a broad spectrum of components related to wastewater treatment. Connectivity at some plants, poor sound and signal interruptions were some of the biggest challenges faced during the process.



• Audit team provided list of required information per KPI: file name, criteria, requirements, examples • Client uploads data on internet platform per KPI: OneDrive

• Audit team conducts online audit using data provided by client • Audit team meets to discuss outcomes and key issues for clarity • Scorecard shared with client • Client to review and communicate all discrepencies to audit team


• One-hour online audit session with audit team and plant personnel to discuss key findings and discrepencies in scores • Conducted via audio or video tools: Zoom or Microsoft Teams • Consolidation of final scorecard by audit team


• Live virtual tour • Audit team to use previous site inspection for reference • Plant personnel to conduct virtual tour using smartphone • Audit team to request visual proof of specific KPI • Audit team to complete site inspection form • Photo assigment: same as above, but plant personnel provide photographic vidence

FIGURE 1 Virtual Green Drop audit methodology

Possibilities for the future

The team agrees that virtual audits hold great promise for the future, post lockdown. Although the process is data hungry, huge savings in time and travel can be achieved. Locally, virtual audits can optimise cost, but they also present the opportunity to extend audits outside of the country, without the need to travel. Moving forward, Laher proposes the following format for both online and faceto-face audits: • plant personnel upload data on a cloudbased platform • inspectors conduct an online audit and send scorecards to plant personnel for interrogation • the audit team and plant personnel participate in a structured one-hour faceto face audit to discuss discrepancies and opportunities for improvement • plant personnel are given an opportunity

WHY CONDUCT GREEN DROP AUDITS? • Drive consistency in performance and continuous progress in wastewater services management • Ensure legislative compliance for wastewater operations and management • Facilitate a competitive environment with incentive to excel and perform • Continuously identify gaps in knowledge, infrastructure, systems, coupled with external expertise to make recommendations to address the gaps • Forge proactive and informed planning • Ensure a high state of readiness as/when the DWS requires national audits to recommence

to submit additional information •m oderation and submission of final scores. Van der Merwe-Botha reports significant interest in the virtual audit process from the sector. However, she stresses that virtual audit protocols must be well documented and shared among peers, to increase uptake and ensure quality services. “This is a new type of professional service and we as auditors need to expand our skills, understand the various platforms available, and learn how to better facilitate the process. This could even be the way forward for the DWS, given the limited budget and skills available. There are increasing calls for the reintroduction of the Drop reports, and it is only a matter of time,” concludes Van der Merwe-Botha.


Acid mine drainage in SA’s coal mining areas While government efforts to treat acid mine drainage (AMD) have focused on the East, Central and West Witwatersrand, there are various bodies looking at how to address the treatment of AMD in the coal mining areas of Mpumalanga.


MD treatment in the Mpumalanga area has been driven mostly by the growing demand for clean water. For instance, Anglo American and BHP Billiton commissioned the eMalahleni Water Reclamation Plant in 2010 to produce drinking water, with its feedwater coming from four coal mines in the area. According to Laetitia Coetser, associate partner and principal scientist, SRK Consulting, the Mine Water Coordinating Body (MWCB) was established to manage the Mpumalanga water systems, with similar efforts undertaken by the Strategic Water Partnership Network (SWPN) Minewater Team. “The MWCB brings together the mining industry and government to find solutions to complex regulatory, institutional and financial barriers to improve mine water treatment and reuse,” says Coetser. “Through the SWPN, the private, public and civil society sectors contribute to the development and implementation of efficient and innovative solutions to South African water challenges.”


It has been mainly historically abandoned collieries behind AMD affecting large areas, she says, and treatment is urgently needed. Of the over 650 mines in Mpumalanga, most are classified as abandoned. “The Olifants primary catchment in Mpumalanga has the highest percentage of mining activities on surface in South Africa. Various factors have contributed to


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An example of decant that shows the salts deposited from the water (Credit: Noddy McGeorge)

Dr Laetitia Coetser, associate partner and principal scientist, SRK Consulting

the detrimental impact on water quality in the Olifants River Catchment, with coal mining being the most significant,” says Coetser. Noddy McGeorge, principal mining engineer, SRK Consulting, notes that AMD in the coalfields is often referred to as ‘mine-affected water’, as not all the pollution impacts on the water from coal mining are defined under the term AMD, and they are not always associated. “The underground mine workings of the coal mines are not normally as frequently flooded as the deeper-seated gold mines, so the latter in fact have higher AMD generation potential. At the same time, the mined-out volume of underground coal mines and the volume of the opencast surface mines is somewhat larger than that of gold mines,” he explains. This means that there is a higher potential for generating mine-affected water, ultimately resulting in greater water volumes that must be managed in coal mining areas. With the mining of coal, natural groundwater flow is severely altered by opencast mining operations, which affect the nature of surfacegroundwater interactions. “As a result, AMD is generated from a combination of groundwater and ingress from natural rainfall that occurs over the mined areas. By contrast, potential pollutants in gold mines are reached predominantly through groundwater flows into the workings,” says McGeorge. (Figure 1 shows a typical model of the water dynamics of an opencast coal mine.)

Noddy McGeorge, principal mining engineer, SRK Consulting

The dynamics of water within opencast areas also are dependent upon the area rehabilitated and the levels of groundwater aquifers in relation to the mine workings. During active operations, pumping keeps the levels lower than the natural groundwater levels; in the mine closure phase, however, mine water collects in the old workings and overburden areas to a level dictated by natural elevation – where the discharge will reach the surface. (Figure 2 shows how water dynamics change depending on the phase of mining.)

No common solution

Despite global similarities associated with AMD, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to address all AMD treatment. While host rocks containing high concentrations of dolomite and calcite are able to neutralise acid, South Africa’s gold and coal deposits are not.

PYRITE, COAL & AMD AMD formation is well understood, according to SRK Consulting’s Laetitia Coetser. “Pyrite, a common minor constituent of many minerals including coal and gold, causes AMD when it encounters oxygenated water. Pyrite oxidation is a two-stage process in which sulfuric acid and ferrous sulfate are produced, followed by orange-red ferric hydroxide and more sulfuric acid.”

McGeorge notes the mine-affected water of the gold and coal mines are very similar in that they both have high acidity and salt levels in the water – beyond the normally accepted guidelines for potable water – and both are treated with similar technologies. “However, the strategies for controlling the water are different in these two sectors. Although there may also be groundwater/surface water interactions, gold mine discharge is normally at a concentrated point such as the mine shaft, well or in a stream,” he says According to Coetser, this allows for the development of more centralised treatment strategies, such as those developed in the Witwatersrand area. “In the Mpumalanga coal mining areas, the discharge can be a wide area of seepage into the surface soils that is not easily accumulated before it can enter the natural watercourse. As a result, sitespecific treatment is more practical,” she says. McGeorge points out, though, that in both the gold and coal sectors, the AMD challenge has become regional; in other words, it has become a pollution problem wider than the immediate area of each mining licence. “The historical legacy of mine licence owners who operated prior to the current legislation is similar in the gold and coalfields, as each mineral has been exploited from the 1890s to the current day. The number of abandoned mines is similar, but are spread over a larger area in the case of coal mines.”

Local impact in Olifants catchment

Coetser notes that the demand for water for basic human needs, which is a priority water use, in the Olifants River catchment is growing and competing with existing water uses, such as energy generation, urban development, mining and irrigated agriculture – placing further stress on the resource. Local communities in the Olifants water management area further rely on water for traditional medicine, subsistence food production and housing materials, while others harvest reeds from the river and use it for recreational and spiritual practices. “Water pollution has caused several incidents, including sickness and death among fish and animals in dams. In 2012, a heavy rainfall event led to pollution control dams flushing their contents into the Boesmanspruit Dam, which had supplied potable water to Carolina,” says Coetser. The CSIR, through the Olifants River Forum, undertook a full catchment analysis in 2010, identifying and quantifying many other sources of pollutants. In addition to mining, fertiliser run-off and eutrophication from wastewater treatment facilities also add to the degradation of both surface- and groundwater resources in the area. “Even with the current pollution control measures in place, there is still an increasing salt level seen in the main dams, which will have to be addressed. Treating water from these dams for use by consumers is not a practical option, as many consumers would be unable to afford the water,” says McGeorge.

Prevention and treatment

An example of a mine shaft and water decant (Credit: Noddy McGeorge)

FIGURE 1 Water dynamics of an opencast mine

FIGURE 2 Water dynamics at different phases of coal mining

Coetser highlights that once AMD formation starts, it is difficult to slow down. It may even be accelerated until one or more of the reactants – including sulfide minerals, oxygen and water – are depleted or excluded from the reaction. “To prevent the formation of AMD, contact with oxygen or water needs to be minimised or prevented. If this is not done, AMD formation can continue for centuries after mining has ceased; this may require mines to provide financial guarantees to pump and treat for decades after mine closure,” she explains. Predicting AMD generation potential is important in the planning and development of new mines, especially with regard to water and mine waste management. Prediction models are increasingly used to assess long-term potential for AMD – with a lag time observed at existing mines before AMD formation materialises. “Predictions of drainage quality are made both qualitatively and quantitively. Qualitative predictions focus on assessing whether acidic conditions may develop from mine waste, with the corresponding release of acidity and metals to mine drainage.” SRK Consulting has extensive experience in the evaluation and selection of appropriate mine water treatment applications and waste residue management, which are based on sound engineering, economic, operational, environmental and process efficiency knowledge.



Cape Town’s near brush with Day Zero presented an ideal opportunity to study how to effect behaviour change to reduce water consumption. However, driving behaviour change requires building significant internal capacity at the municipal level.


tarting in November 2015, the Water Research Commission (WRC) and the University of Cape Town (UCT), in collaboration with the City of Cape Town (CoCT), implemented a six-month study, targeting Cape Town’s residential households, to explore the effects of behavioural nudges on residential water consumption. Notably, this was one of the first studies to implement a large-scale behavioural intervention via a local municipality in a developing country. The study involved targeting 400 000 households in Cape Town with a series of ‘behavioural nudges’ via an insert included within their monthly utilities bill. According to Jay Bhagwan, executive manager: Water Use and Waste Management, WRC, behavioural nudges, which fall under the discipline of behavioural economics, are described as interventions that preserve freedom of choice while influencing people’s decisions. Behavioural economics can be used to identify circumstances where people show poor judgment or don’t act rationally (e.g. deferring saving, wasting electricity) and can use behavioural nudges to facilitate behaviour change.


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This is non-price-based behavioural intervention (BI) that is inexpensive, scalable and does not feel punitive. The targeted households received one of eight forms of nudges, either addressing informational failures around price and usage of water or promoting water conservation via social incentives and appeals to the public good. All ‘nudges’ successfully induced a reduction in household consumption, ranging from 0.57% to 1.86%. (This study is covered in depth in the September/October 2020 issue of Water&Sanitation Africa.) Following the success of the initial study, the team decided to implement a second phase, focused on building capacity within the municipality. The intention was to transfer knowledge and skills between the UCT researchers and the city officials in order to institutionalise the learnings from the study. The interventions moreover coincided with a period of severe drought conditions, with dams being at their lowest in 20 years, resulting in level 2 water restrictions (starting 1 January 2016) being implemented by the City of Cape Town. In this setting, this study provided the ideal background against which to demonstrate the ability of behavioural messages to

encourage water conservation in times of water scarcity. From a policy perspective, it was also important to assess how BI impacted water demand in the longer term, and how such interventions compare to more traditional policy tools, such as tariff increases and water restrictions.

Building municipal capacity

Knowledge sharing and skills transfer were achieved across an extensive range of events, incorporating audiences of the public, businesses, NGOs, academics and government officials at both the local and international level. The CoCT was provided with formal training in the theory and practice of BI, along with opportunities to gain practical experience. As a component of building capacity, the research team from UCT and the municipality set out to co-develop a strategic plan to institutionalise nudges within the CoCT. This would require a practical, action-based approach, and so the teams undertook to run a secondary water conservation nudging project within the CoCT in which the learnings from the original study would be applied. The result was the development of the Cape Town Water Map, which was inspired by the finding that the

WC/WDM message that consistently induced the largest water reduction from the original nudging study was the ‘social recognition’ treatment. This treatment advised households that the names of the top water savers would be published on the CoCT’s website. Public recognition was found to have a particularly large impact on high-income households. The Water Map became a publicly viewable map website of all residential properties in the city that were using less than the recommended volume of water amount per month. Water consumption indicators were displayed on the map at the property level, with distinct map symbols being displayed on properties with low consumption. This was considered an important mechanism to complement existing awareness campaigns and water demand management projects and to help achieve an immediate further reduction in water demand.

Findings and recommendations

The project post-mortem inputs from stakeholders identified a variety of barriers inhibiting the implementation of BI projects within the CoCT. These include: • lack of management understanding and buy-in (in a technology-biased environment) • lack of available funding • inhibited capacity to implement changes due to other, higher-priority projects. Further investigation is required to identify solutions to address these issues comprehensively. It is hoped that

through the knowledge sharing and project successes, management buy-in may be easier to achieve in the future, along with securing funding. It was also established that the BI projects should be handled according to formalised project management best practice and would benefit from: •a designated municipal staff member responsible for acting as a communication channel for external stakeholders to keep them abreast of internal developments and to disseminate information • c learly outlining stakeholder groups early on to prevent late-stage requirements and multiple rounds of approvals •d rafting and agreeing to project timelines up front to spread time between key milestones. The importance of strong stakeholder and project management skills was identified as vital in collaborative ventures of this nature. Interventions must also be designed in such a way as to enable robust, meaningful data to be collected. Without considering the requirements for future monitoring and analysis in the initial design of the project, evaluating the cost benefit of nudges against other forms of intervention is not possible. Overall, the study recommends collaborative work between researchers and government, but also within different levels of government, such as between the city and at provincial level. The study also calls for municipalities to move beyond price-based measures to reduce water demand and acknowledge

that other measures such as campaigns, restrictions, and nudges have had bigger effects on consumption reduction. Bhagwan points out that most municipalities have never implemented a behaviour change intervention. But as water scarcity becomes an increasing concern and middle- and high-income households don’t feel the economic impacts of high water consumption, behavioural nudges may well become a vital institutional and management vehicle in changing consumption patterns.

Much of the above information is outlined in the report titled ‘Mixing Water and Behaviour Change: A Case Study of Nudging in the City of Cape Town’, published by the WRC.

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PARSHALL FLUME STANDARDS – clearing the confusion Standards are vital in international trade and the Parshall flume, named for its principal developer Ralph L Parshall, is no exception. Both ASTM and ISO present methods for computing discharge through Parshall flumes, but what does each entail? By Peter van der Merwe

Peter van der Merwe (Pr Tech Eng) is an independent consultant who advises on hydraulic matters relating to open-channel flow monitoring. He has eight years of experience in the design, manufacture and supply of a wide range of flumes and weirs, and has consulted and supplied products to over 170 clients, both local and international.


or many years, the Bureau of Reclamation’s Water Measurement Manual, first published in 1953, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Circular No. 843, also published in 1953, served as the references for Parshall flume dimensions, flow characteristics and applications. Over time, the versatility of the Parshall flume saw it used in numerous diverse

applications, including water rights apportionment, watershed monitoring, and sewage treatment plants. The Parshall flume has a significant influence on the equitable distribution and proper management of irrigation water. The growing acceptance of the flume also saw several investigations into its flow principles, its use and application, as well as extensions to the flume’s design for larger and smaller flow rates.

Ultimately, a need was perceived for the standardisation of the flume by the world’s technical standards organisations – particularly ASTM International and ISO. As a short-throated flume, it was important that the dimensions of the flume be exact and standardised. In 1991, ASTM standardised the Parshall flume in ASTM D1941-91 Standard Test Method for Open Channel Flow Measurement of Water with the Parshall Flume. This Parshall flume is also known as the US Parshall flume. ISO followed in 1992 with ISO 9826:1992 Measurement of Liquid Flow in Open Channels – Parshall and SANIIRI (Central Asian Research Institute of Irrigation) Flumes. Over the intervening years, the ASTM standard has seen several revisions, notably in 1996, 2001, 2007 and 2013. The ISO standard has not needed to be updated since its publication in September of 1992. The ISO standard is reviewed every five years and was confirmed to be current in 2018. ISO and ASTM Parshall discharge equivalents


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Flow equations and methodology

The methodology for Parshall flume calculations follows that of ISO 9826:2018 and ASTM D1941-91(2013). Both standards present methods for computing discharge through Parshall flumes. Since a Parshall flume is a standard flume, the two methods should be similar, but the chart ‘ISO & ASTM Parshall discharge equivalents’ shows the variance in the two standards by comparing approximate ratings and throat widths. ASTM D1941-91(2013) has pages of tabular data that are more difficult to implement into a computer program compared to the tables, figures and equations of ISO 9826:2018. ISO 9826:2018 is in SI (metric) units while ASTM D1941-91(2013) uses imperial units and the US customary measurement system. Furthermore, the ASTM D1941-91(2013) Parshall flumes are specified by their throat width – the sizes range from 1 inch to 300 inches. The ISO Standard ISO 9826:2018 specifies a range of Parshall flumes by a model number (P)1 to (P)21 and the size by the throat width. Parshall flumes must be built with their dimensions in strict accordance with specifications in the published documents of the ISO and ASTM standards. Every Parshall flume is an empirical device, hydraulically and individually calibrated, and no intermediate sizes are standardised by either ISO or ASTM. Parshall flumes are not scale models of each other. Drawings of the basic dimensions of the two standards of the full range of Parshall flumes, based on both standards, can be obtained at no cost from the author.

The ISO and ASTM standardisation processes

Standards are important in international trade because incongruent standards can be barriers to trade, giving some organisations advantages in certain areas of the world. Standards provide clear, identifiable references that are recognised internationally and encourage fair competition in free-market economies. Standards facilitate trade through enhanced product quality and reliability, greater interoperability and compatibility, greater ease of maintenance, and reduced costs.

ISO compliance, certification and accreditation to ISO standards for an organisation are simply a way of proving that an organisation does indeed comply with the relevant standard(s). Some organisations are required to implement these standards and others to demonstrate their compliance to them. ISO is a voluntary organisation whose members are recognised standards authorities, each one representing one country. The bulk of the work of ISO is done by 2 700 technical committees, subcommittees and working groups. Each committee and subcommittee is headed by a secretariat from one of the member organisations. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the United States representative to ISO. ASTM International has no role in requiring or enforcing compliance with its standards. The standards, however, may become mandatory when referenced by an external contract, company or government. A company can indicate that their product conforms to an ASTM standard, if an organisation does their own testing/verification and represents that their product meets an ASTM standard by referencing the specific designation – e.g. complies with or meets ASTM D1941-91(2013) Standard Test Method for Open Channel Flow Measurement of Water with the Parshall Flume. ASTM develops industry-wide certification programmes rather than programmes for individual organisations. The certification programmes are available through the Safety Equipment Institute (a subsidiary of ASTM) for materials, products, systems and services certificate programmes.


The most effective way to obtain a good understanding of the use of the Parshall flow measuring structures is to consult publications, articles and the appropriate standard issued on these flumes. Such information and standard not only gives a review of the flume but also provides the necessary basic principles and practical outlines on how to select the most appropriate structure for specific demands and how to manufacture the hydraulic design of a flow measuring device. N OV / D E C 2020


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MAKING PUMPS SMART AND FLEXIBLE With the use of smart controllers, the water sector can achieve greater control, efficiency and performance over pumping systems.


raditional pumps either run full-throttle or not at all, creating inefficiencies, adding to costs, and contributing to environmental damage. The Hydrovar family of smart variable-speed pump controllers has evolved to provide intelligent features to AC motor pumps, combined with easy installation and commissioning, along with many other features. In addition to reducing pump energy usage by as much as 70%, Xylem’s fifth generation of Lowara Hydrovar variablespeed pump controllers can enhance nearly any pump with smart technology to run better, react to conditions, and avoid damage. “Hydrovar was developed over the decades with two specific goals – to give you more control and insight over your pumps and to make them more intelligent,” says Chetan Mistry, manager: Strategy and Marketing for Xylem Africa. “These units are compatible with nearly every AC motor pump and come with a slew of features that make clear financial sense to our customers. Hydrovar isn’t a new kid on the block, and every advance it makes ends up being a significant improvement over what the market can offer.”

Easy to install and retrofit

The Hydrovar system consists of a variable-speed drive, a control card, sensors, EMC filters and motor/system protection. There’s no need for an external control panel, and each unit can support up to eight pumps. Hydrovar

can be installed on top of the pump or be wall-mounted in tighter spaces. The system works with most pumps and can be connected to any AC motor. It supports the RS485 interface, BACnet, Modbus, analog and digital I/O, direct motor control function, and offers an optional Wi-Fi card. This compatibility ensures that Hydrovar can be retrofitted to older pumps. Quick start-up guides and logic menu systems make the Hydrovar straightforward to set up and operate. Advanced programming features can also optimise the system for almost any duty condition.

Active maintenance and prevention The system can safely and quickly stop pumps at zero demand. Hydrovar offers thermal protection of the motor via its software, dry-run protection, and specific motor protections such as overtemperature, overcurrent and undervoltage monitoring. It generates time-stamped error logs and can extend the lifetime of your pumps. Since every Hydrovar acts as a master unit, the system offers extensive redundancy.

Give your pumps brains

Without a good reason to do so, constantly running pumps at 100% capacity will be costly and wear pumps down faster. A motor running at 80% of its maximum speed uses 48% less energy.

Designed for both modern and older equipment, Hydrovar adds brains to your pumps, which can help to save money, gain performance, pre-empt maintenance, and avoid breakdowns. With energy savings of up to 70% on partial loads alone, the typical investment payback period is less than two years, depending on energy costs and pump operating times. Using software configuration to meet different demands, Hydrovar units are found across different industries, including municipal, industrial and domestic water supplies, HVAC systems, mining applications, agriculture, the food and beverage industry, geothermal applications, firefighting, and water displays. N OV / D E C 2020



South Africa: before, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic | Part 3 Part 1 of this series described how South Africans experienced life since democracy until Covid-19 arrived. It continued with some comments about life under the pandemic. Parts 2 and 3 update our Covid-19

experience. Part 3 also starts to look at how the nation must plan for life after Covid-19 to overcome the unacceptable shortcomings of the last 25 years. By Derek G Hazelton


uring September, the occurrence of new Covid-19 cases and deaths per day continued, albeit at a lower rate than in the previous month. Unfortunately, October brought an increase in cases and deaths. The increase in cases in October has been reported in an alarmist manner by some government and non-government sources. However, respected voices such as Professor Shabir Madhi of Wits University believe the increase in cases is likely due to complacency. It is people’s behaviour that will cause any resurgence that takes place. South Africans must therefore look after their mental health, socialise, meet in small groups, outdoors where practical, while adhering to social distancing, hygiene practices and mask wearing. Europe is experiencing a serious resurgence. We must not allow such a

resurgence to happen here, especially as, under such circumstances, government will likely reintroduce lockdown, despite the devastating collateral damage.

How is government planning for our future?

Until 24 June 2020, government appeared to be doing no planning for the future. On that date, Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni published his 109-page 2020 Supplementary Budget Review. The review focused on debt as a percentage of GDP and called for its stabilisation through inappropriate austerity measures. Since then, President Ramaphosa and Nedlac appear to have persuaded Mboweni to cast his net a little wider, but both seem to have learned little from the suffering experienced by the poor of South Africa over the last six months. While a few partially positive strategies

Derek G Hazelton, Pr Eng., FWISA, founder and manager of TSE Water Services

have been tabled, the lack of detail in the overall recovery remedies proposed does not bode well for our future.

What should the priorities of government be?

The purpose of government is to strengthen and improve the quality of family and community life sustainably. Using this purpose as a foundation, we can consider what government’s essential priorities should currently be for South Africa. The following priorities are proposed: 1. The elimination of starvation and hunger 2. Reducing unemployment 3. The building of a society with less inequality 4. Improving service delivery 5. Caring for our land – its air, water, plant live, animals and fish – while implementing the other priorities.

Within what genre of government are these priorities most likely to be achieved?

FIGURE 1 History of new confirmed Covid-19 pandemic cases per day in South Africa – 1 May to 31 October 2020


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With its already obscenely high poverty, unemployment and unequal educational system, South Africa was already in a state of crisis prior to the pandemic. The majority of South Africans, despite Cyril Ramaphosa becoming president in 2018, were still experiencing a slowly worsening situation. With Covid-19, this dire situation was accelerated. We South Africans and its government need: • a broader democracy infused with our own traditions as we work to embrace and grow the spirit of ubuntu


FIGURE 2 History of Covid-19 pandemic deaths per day in South Africa – 1 May to 31 October 2020

• to believe in the primacy of the preamble to our Constitution where it states that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. It has been observed over the last 26 years that South Africa’s best politicians and government officials have been those with the best ability to listen and seek advice from a wide range of official and unofficial advisors, rather than those with the very best education and brains. Such listening is fundamental to the spirit of ubuntu. There have been reports that government is planning to continue ruling through a National Command Council after the Covid-19 crisis is over. Such a decision would be unacceptable to a large majority of South Africans. Rather, the best use of Parliament, Parliamentary Portfolio Committees and the work of all its ministers and deputy ministers needs to be facilitated.

In our obscenely unequal society, slavishly copying the old northern hemisphere’s form of democracy should not be accepted. Majority rule and democracy are a contradiction. To assist with ensuring that the weakest inhabitants of our country are heard, the powers of the party chief whips should be reduced, and we should revert to a government of national unity, as we had in 1994. Because of difficulties in finalising the voter roll, due to the non-completion of the re-incorporation of the ex-self-governing territories, all residents of South Africa, not just citizens, voted in our first free and fair elections. This should not have been changed. As per the preamble to our Constitution – that South Africa belongs to all who live in it – all residents should be allowed to vote. This is necessary to allow our weakest residents to have a say in how the country is ruled, and to

FIGURE 3 History of new confirmed Covid-19 pandemic cases per day in Europe and Africa from

overcome the injustice of residents paying taxes without representation. As a matter of urgency, we need to rid ourselves of party lists as a means of electing representatives to all levels of government. The alternative system chosen still needs to ensure proportional representation. When the communist form of government collapsed in the USSR in 1989, the West celebrated. However, the resultant uncritical and triumphant acceptance of neoliberalism as the best form of government, and the subsequent breakup of the USSR itself at the end of 1991, has been a disaster for a significant minority in nearly all countries of the world, including in the USSR itself, its former republics and South Africa. For the populations in these countries, a system of rule that ensured government, big business, organised labour, SMMEs and non-represented civil society were all strong would benefit all sections of society and would build strong, united, stable societies. In South Africa, the economic recovery models that have been proposed to date fail to address the first priority listed at the beginning of this article: the elimination of starvation and hunger. With respect to the other priorities, models mostly repeat the strategies proposed for the last five years, which had already caused our worsening economic situation, which has only been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the result of government’s reliance on neoliberalism, which acts as a barrier to a just transformation of our society. All the parliamentary reforms recommended above would facilitate such a transformation but, most importantly, despite a Constitution that puts a premium on inclusive consultation and negotiation, our government has failed to build an institution capable of putting this requirement into practice. NEDLAC (the National Economic Development and Labour Council) can and must become such an institution. This can be achieved by implementing the following changes: 1. NEDLAC is not inclusive. It currently represents the upper echelons of government, big business and, imperfectly, organised labour. Organised civil society is also

23 February to 31 October 2020

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COVID-19 • OPINION represented but, judging from the NEDLAC meeting outcomes, these representatives appear to have made no impact. To become inclusive, NEDLAC’s membership needs to be urgently expanded to include all stakeholders, including traditional leaders, learned societies, SMMEs, informal entrepreneurs and workers, the unemployed, and genuine representatives of civil society. Of additional concern is the fact that there currently appears to be no broad coalition carrying out budget advocacy work on behalf of the vulnerable. This must change, and representatives of such a coalition must be included in NEDLAC. Through an expanded NEDLAC, all sections of our society will come together and, through greater understanding, we will learn to respect each other and work together to build ubuntu. 2. T he agenda and invitees of all NEDLAC meetings should be made public. When existing NEDLAC members, or other activists in any field, judge that agendas are not inclusive, or that invitees will not deal with any item adequately, ‘guests’ should be able to attend meetings, so that ideas and information from outside the regular membership can be obtained. 3. D etailed minutes should be taken at meetings. These minutes, and the costs associated with each meeting, should be accessible to all.

Government’s post-Covid-19 recovery plans

The first indication of the government’s post-Covid-19 recovery plan was Tito Mboweni’s 24 June 2020 Supplementary Budget Review. The budget figures

themselves look acceptable (see Table 1). However, they do not illustrate the extent to which funds were redirected in response to Covid-19. Much publicity was given to the government’s R500 billion Covid-19 economic relief package. But R200 billion of this was in the poorly designed business loan guarantee scheme. It appears that up to a further R110 billion will not be made available in the 2020/21 financial year. The remaining R190 billion was mainly made available through redirecting existing budget allocations. Given the available time frames, this redirection of funds in response to Covid-19 was well planned, but the subsequent implementation was ruined by corruption scandals. Finally, R27 million was made available through reprioritising conditional capital grants. R11 million was made available through reprioritisations to the education and municipal infrastructure grants, mainly to provide water and sanitation to schools and households. This reprioritisation should not have taken place, and the resultant emergency provision of water and sanitation, using Rand Water as the implementing agent, was poorly executed. The worst statement in the 24 June 2020 Supplementary Budget Review, related to the 2020/21 financial year, states that the additional social assistance interventions for distressed and vulnerable households introduced in May will be terminated at the end of October. To stop this, on 12 October

a group of more than 80 civil society organisations, including COSATU and SAFTU, demanded a meeting with President Ramaphosa within 48 hours. It appears the president did not meet the civil society organisations. In his address to the Joint Sitting of Parliament on South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan on 15 October 2020, he extended one special Covid-19 relief grant for three months at a cost of R6 billion. Mboweni says the money will be found by reprioritising spending and not by increasing overall state expenditure. This R6 billion is in sharp contrast to the well-motivated R37 billion sought by the civil society organisations. Thus, all sections of South African society still need to tell the president and his government clearly that – until we have a comprehensive plan to guarantee an end to starvation and hunger – all the imperfect additional social assistance interventions must continue. In the next issue of WASA, the author will look at how the Covid-19 recovery plan bottlenecks should be eased. For more information, contact Derek Hazelton on tsewater@icon.co.za.



2020/21 BUDGET



1 345

1 398

1 100


1 691

1 766

1 809

TABLE 1 2020 Supplementary Budget



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