IWA ends on high note with technical tours

02 Nov 2013 17:50pm
WINDHOEK, 01 NOV (NAMPA)- If water people themselves cannot have a common approach and understanding on the necessity of the reuse of water, it will always remain one of the largest stumbling blocks in implementing the practice of recycling water.
This was the remark by Piet du Pisani, chairperson of International Water Association (IWA), during the closing of the five-day International Water Conference on Water Reuse here on Thursday.
Du Pisani reminded delegates that the jury is still out on direct potable water reuse, and in order to get them back, stigmas associated with reusing water have to be removed by the water people who attended that conference.
He said that it is important to treat and provide water of appropriate quality for appropriate use.
“While potable water is at the very high end of the scale and might still be a bridge too far for many countries, treating water to be reused for irrigation, industry, cooling and many other purposes will already lead to great efficiency improvements,” said Du Pisani.
He revealed that of the approximately 100 000 chemical compounds developed annually in the world, only roughly 2 000 are tested for their effects on the water environment.
“That leaves 98 000 potential enemies that enter unnoticed into our effluents. These figures cause panic in certain circles, and reuse of effluent is considered too risky by some and many end users will not accept it currently,” noted Du Pisani.
He said in the mind of people waste water is too risky to reclaim but once it is discharged to a natural water body, this risk disappears.
He further said that it is important to ensure end users that reused water, if appropriately treated, can be made absolutely safe.
“It looks like we are moving in the right direction in assuring end users that reuse is a viable option, although it is important that strong governance and legal frameworks are in place. The latter is still lacking in many countries, especially in the developing world, that the same water deemed unsuitable for reuse in one community, becomes a resource downstream,” indicated Du Pisani.
On the topic of public participation and human perception, he said: “I agree fully that without our customers being involved no project will fly. It is however critically important that the end user has access to the correct information”.
At the end of the conference the delegates took a technical tour of the Goreangab Reclamation Plant, Gammams Water Care Works, one of the City of Windhoek’s recharge boreholes, and the Von Bach Dam.
Over 170 delegates visited the Reclamation Plant at Goreangab to familiarise themselves with how the City practices direct potable reuse from sewage effluent, a unique practice that was widely hailed in the conference’s papers as one the important future methods of sustainable water management.