Water hyacinth surge in rivers due to excessive nutrients from inadequate wastewater treatment processes
“South Africa is facing an increased frequency of extreme weather events, such as droughts, heat waves and severe thunderstorms, due to climate change. As a result, there is a greater threat of vector-borne diseases and food, energy and water insecurity, which consequently threatens livelihoods.
“And as temperatures over Africa increase at a rate faster than the projected rise of global temperatures, there is likely to be a more drastic impact, due to socio-economic issues prevalent in Africa and southern Africa specifically.
“It is critical that South Africa responds to these challenges by urgently introducing programmes that include legislative reform, revision of pollution limits, proactive planning by local authorities and the launch of sector-specific controls.
“Although the process of tackling climate change symptoms is difficult and complex, reduction of past and future climate change is achievable via holistic thinking in terms of technical, social and monetary requirements. This should be supported by a responsible industrial and commercial sector and proper policy and implementation by government and the private sector.”
This is the view of Keshan Moodley, Director, Bosch Munitech (Pty) Ltd – a member of the Bosch Holdings group of multi-disciplinary consulting engineering companies.
“According to the Government’s latest Financial and Fiscal Commission report, the most vulnerable municipalities in South Africa are rural villages, small towns and secondary cities,” says Keshan Moodley. “Vulnerabilities of these municipalities are expected to increase due to the high levels of informal housing and the lack of efficient management of these growth areas. Rural areas are particularly vulnerable due to their dependency on climate-sensitive resources, such as water and an agrarian landscape.
“Climate change negatively affects water availability and quality, which in turn, has negative impact on community health. We believe, that if every person in South Africa has continuous access to water – that is clean and safe to drink and in the quantities needed – the health impacts from water-borne diseases, such as cholera and the impacts of community viral-spread as seen by the Covid-19 pandemic, can be greatly minimised.”
Bosch Munitech’s mitigation measures for water scarcity – water conservation and demand management projects – include municipal leak detection, upgrading of aged infrastructure and installation of new infrastructure. The company also recommends logging of water flows to determine the demand on the water supply networks and studies on how to best reduce water usage and wastage by consumers.
According to Bosch Munitech specialists, municipal and private wastewater treatment plants that release treated effluent into rivers and oceans, need to be monitored in a more pro-active way, as it is now evident that viruses, such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, are transported in sewer systems. Recommended monitoring methods include sample and laboratory analysis on a scheduled basis. Sensors should be installed on effluent valves to establish if and when they need to open for release – especially in periods of high rainfall, as industries tend to use this as an opportunity to release effluent in a diluted manner. bosch-munitech-services-climate-change…three
Monitoring should also include water-use licence evaluations, which take into account the testing of the effluent and the river environment into which it is released. The development of educational material and conducting of workshops for adults and children is also important, to highlight the importance of water conservation and assist in changing mindsets.
Climate change poses both opportunities and threats to the wastewater reclamation sector. Processes that occur in wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) are affected by extreme weather events, which lead to untreated sewer overflows and increased flooding. To combat current water insecurity concerns, wastewater reclamation and reuse is becoming a more promising means to conserving valuable fresh water sources, whilst increasing the efficiency of material utilisation.
In light of the increased occurrence of severe weather events, Bosch Munitech encourages municipalities to adapt their infrastructure planning to encompass more resilient and adaptive asset management practices in line with climate change, for more reliable forecasting of long-term infrastructure planning.
With a thorough understanding of the interactions between human activities and natural processes, the Bosch Munitech team assists the public and private sector to integrate climate change adaptation strategies into asset management practices. This is achieved mainly through risk assessments, lifecycle management projects and improved levels of service.
Bosch Munitech is a solutions-driven utility management company, providing specialist services in the municipal water and wastewater sectors. The company also offers services in solid waste, environmental and asset management, utilities detection and laser scanning of buildings, factories and structures.