Water resources are limited in South Africa, especially in the City of Durban. To ensure the city’s residents are given priority in accessing drinking water resources, the Durban Recycling Plant was developed by Veolia Water Technologies to switch manufacturing processes to recycled water. "98% of this particular treatment plant's wastewater is recycled, freeing up 47,000 cubic meters a day for consumption by citizens."
Commissioned in May 2001, the plant features some of Veolia Water Technologies flagship processes such as the Multiflo™ clarifier and Hydrex® water treatment chemicals. Veolia’s scope of work under the 20-year operations & maintenance contract includes responsibility for managing the water through the entire value chain. This incorporates wastewater catchment, conveyance, trade effluent control, preliminary and primary treatment, secondary and tertiary treatment, reclaimed water reticulation and utilization.
The water catchment available to Durban City is at the limit of its resource capacity and increased bulk water supply to the city could only be undertaken by means of extremely expensive inter-catchment transfer schemes. The Durban Recycling Plant therefore serves to significantly protect and ensure the sustainable development of the City’s existing available water resources. South Africa is a water stressed nation and this project undoubtedly contributes to the preservation of natural water resources. In addition, the project is the first of its kind in South Africa and may be regarded as a model for this type of approach to water resource management in the country – and the continent.
The drought recently experienced in parts of South Africa has brought to the fore the benefits for industry in using reclaimed water as opposed to potable water for their process needs. While all potable water users had to reduce their off take, those industries that receive reclaimed water enjoyed continuous supply with no restrictions and therefore did not have to reduce production. The benefits that can be derived from switching to a reclaimed water source from potable water are therefore both environmental and financial.
The Durban Recycling Plant represents an ideal example of a Public Private Partnership where a local municipality supplies domestic and industrial effluent for treatment to near potable standards and then distributes it to local industry for direct reuse in their industrial processes. In this case, the companies involved are Mondi and Sapref.