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Cape Town to purify treated sewage water for safe drinking

  • Cape Town to purify treated sewage water for safe drinking

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Cape Town, the legislative capital of South Africa, is working to reduce its reliance on rainfall by implementing water reuse and reclamation technologies, reports Daily Maverick.  

Amidst the uncertainties of climate change wreaking havoc globally, the City of Cape Town has unveiled plans to incorporate water reuse, accounting for up to 7% of the city’s total bulk potable water supply by 2040, as an integral part of its expansive New Water Programme.

This initiative aims to augment the city's water resources by an additional 300 million litres per day from new sources by 2030. The strategy primarily involves harnessing seawater through desalination, extracting groundwater from two major aquifers, and introducing water reuse into the mix.

While acknowledging that these measures may not fully shield people living in Cape Town from the impacts of future climate change-induced droughts, these innovative water projects are poised to mitigate the severity of water restrictions during periods of necessity in the years ahead.

The mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, said: “The whole point is to build the concept of resilience. We don’t want to be vulnerable in the future to what Perth has experienced… they have had a 40% reduction in rainfall, not just for a year or two, but for 20 years. The rain has simply not come back, and we believe there is a risk of that happening in South Africa and Cape Town in particular.”

The programme is part of the city’s multibillion-rand attempt to ensure Cape Town is resilient against severe future droughts after the worrying Day Zero experience in 2018.

Following the Day Zero event in Cape Town, residents adopted and continue to implement water-saving habits such as using their bath and shower water to water gardens, fill their cisterns and so on. 

Water Reuse and Reclamation Project in Cape Town

A cutting-edge initiative is on the horizon for Cape Town, as plans are underway to establish a state-of-the-art facility at the Faure Water Treatment Plant in the eastern part of the city. This facility is set to leverage treated wastewater from the recently upgraded Zandvliet Wastewater Treatment Works. The treated wastewater will undergo an advanced purification process, transforming it into potable water.

The resulting potable water will be seamlessly integrated with dam water to enhance the water supply to the Faure plant, the largest water treatment facility in the city. Subsequently, the purified water will be distributed throughout Cape Town's water network.

Hill-Lewis stated, "We are excited to be part of a global movement embracing water reuse for long-term sustainability—a practice adopted by many cities for over half a century already."

This ambitious water reuse and reclamation project comes with an estimated cost of up to R5 billion, with construction slated to commence next year.

“Our target is to have all these new water projects done by 2030, but this project will be done sooner, probably 2027,” he added.

When asked how safe this reused water will be for drinking, Hill-Lewis said, “It will be the highest quality drinking water… even better quality than bottled water. It will be pumped back into the dams, and then treated again as water from our dams normally is.”

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