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Wastewater Management is a Shared Responsibility

Whether as ordinary citizens, business owners or industrialists of South Africa, we owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women responsible for operating the nation’s many municipal water treatment plants. Without their efforts, we would drink from the same infected rivers and lakes we use to wash our clothes and perform our ablutions, like many of those who live in the poorest countries on our continent. Effective wastewater management systems have never been more crucial than they are today. Humans have become the biggest consumers of water on the planet and are also the principal source of its pollution.

Before our intervention, mother nature maintained a perfectly balanced water cycle. Every drop consumed by plants and animals returned to the soil. There, filtration cleansed it before entering rivers, lakes and streams where the sun’s rays eventually evaporated it in a natural distillation process, removing the last of its impurities. The purified water then fell as rain for reuse before repeating the cycle. Modern wastewater management employs techniques, such as sedimentation and various forms of filtration, when attempting to compensate for consistently exceeding the planet’s natural capacity for recycling.

While these purification efforts are vital, water conservation is equally crucial, and it is the responsibility of every consumer to avoid unnecessary waste. However, the time may be rapidly approaching when the efforts of utility companies and municipalities can no longer meet the rising demands. Cape Town’s “Day Zero” crisis is a reminder that time is running out and that wastewater management is a shared responsibility.

Legislation governing the composition of effluents discharged into the environment requires industries to adopt measures to ensure they don’t contaminate nearby surface and groundwater sources. However, in many cases, there may be a more conservative option. For example, recycling can often provide water suitable for reuse in routine factory processes. However, the recycling option is not limited to the factory floor. Farmers, small business owners and individuals can all apply water recycling to varying degrees to boost commercial wastewater management efforts and counter the threat of that pending “Day Zero” when the first city’s taps finally run dry.

For a start, there are effective recycling systems for farm use. These installations can turn water contaminated with silage and animal waste into a liquid suitable for washing vehicles and farm equipment while producing a nutrient-rich organic fertiliser from the solids. For home use, similar systems are available to recycle rainwater or greywater from baths, sinks and washing machines. Additional processing could even produce potable water, save money, conserve energy, and, most importantly, make a valuable contribution to the increasingly vital process of wastewater management.

For further information, contact Watericon’s team of specialists.