Reclaimed water is poised to become an even stronger pillar of water sustainability in South Africa. The country aims to make the most of its limited resources with ambitious plans that aim to catch, desalinate and reuse a large amount of water while cutting down on demand. Strict local limitations are unfathomable for many South Africans; hence it makes it more important to design and implement efficient systems that can provide clean water at the turn of a tap for a population of about 61.93 million in 2022, which has increased from an estimated 39.54 Million in 1990.
Over the past years, South Africa has attempted to strengthen its water services thanks to the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, a comprehensive policy to supply water from catchment and desalination as well as reclaimed wastewater, with re-use playing a prominent role because of its potential to provide an abundant and sustainable water source.
Recycled wastewater is mostly used for industrial processes, especially in the water-intensive production of components for electric devices, but it’s also added to raw water in reservoirs during dry periods. This mix is then treated to make it potable and supplied as tap water, making the country more resilient should resources decrease.
Various applications, as well as the current levels of usage of reclaimed water regionally and, to a lesser extent, locally, have been explored over the years.
The proven applications for re-used water include:
Agriculture / irrigation;
Construction (dust control, soil settling and compaction, aggregate washing, concrete making);
Domestic - non-potable (firefighting, car washing, toilet flushing, garden watering), industrial (cooling towers, boiler feed, quenching);
Groundwater recharge (recharge of aquifers);
Return to rivers; and
Potable water (drinking water, either supplied directly or blended with raw water).
A number of international examples of applications for using reclaimed water are well documented and, we have over a decade of experience in implementing and managing a broad range of projects that enable the use of reclaimed water, especially in water scarce countries like South Africa.