M&R Water, partner launch innovative wastewater treatment demo plant

26 April 2018

Murray & Roberts Water (MRW), together with its European technology partner, Organica Water, on Wednesday launched an innovative, environment-friendly wastewater treatment plant that closely resembles a greenhouse at the eThekwini municipality’s Verulam Wastewater Treatment Works.

The first of its kind in South Africa, the new demonstration plant not only eliminates the unpleasant odours usually associated with wastewater treatment facilities but also produces 30% less sludge, uses 30% less energy and has a 50% to 75% smaller geographic footprint.

It uses fixed-bed activated sludge technology and comprises biomodules that are designed to fit into customised biological reactors which are aesthetically designed to complement the often highly urbanised environments in which they are situated.

With no odour or splash, the wastewater treatment plant can be located virtually anywhere, thus substantially lowering infrastructure costs to connect to customers and enhancing land value around the facility. No buffer zones are required and the value of land close to water treatment facilities is no longer compromised, Organica Water senior manager Oscar Palomino told guests at the launch.

An example of one of the facilities that Organica has constructed in ten countries over the past 17 years is a facility located beneath a landscaped traffic circle in an upmarket part of Hainan, China.

Palomino said these facilities combined engineering, chemistry and sophisticated information technology with architecture for the first time. “This is a water reclamation garden, educational facility and symbol of sustainability in the community that enables cost-efficient water reuse and allows for maximised development opportunities, particularly in populated areas where footprint and odour are significant concerns.”

The Verulam-based prototype cost R20-million to build and is located alongside the existing wastewater treatment plant. It will process a sample of the wastewater conventionally treated there, mirroring volume and quality fluctuations and allowing for comparative studies of its performance over the next year.

MRW secured the exclusive licence for Organica Technology in South Africa – and non-exclusively in the rest of the Southern African Development Community region, early in 2016.

Construction of the Verulam plant began in September 2017 and was completed in February. It has been operational since March.

eThekwini Water and Sanitation head Ednick Msweli said the municipality was monitoring progress closely and would consider investing in this technology for planned upgrades of water infrastructure that were required in the near future.   

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