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Sector can benefit from water optimising solutions

28th April 2023

By: Cameron Mackay

Creamer Media Senior Online Writer

     

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It is evident that the South African sewage and effluent sector is under tremendous strain, as ongoing sewage spillage is a symptom of a “far wider and deeper issue”, stresses water solutions provider Xylem Africa strategy and marketing manager Chetan Mistry.

The infrastructure to manage wastewater – from the transport networks of wastewater to wastewater treatment plants – is crumbling, owing to poor maintenance, and a lack of capacity owing to increasing populations.

“The health risk is paramount, as this will increase the risk of diseases and can impact on the general wellbeing of people. These challenges reduce the opportunities for optimising water, particularly the treating of wastewater for reuse and preserving precious water resources,” he adds.

He explains that a lack of policy enforcement in the local sector poses challenges, as it is evident that sewage and wastewater from industry are allowed to enter the environment in an uncontrolled manner.

Mistry cites the pollution of water resources, such as the Vaal river, in Gauteng, in recent years, as an example.

The lack of enforcement of environmental regulations leads to high levels of pollution that, in turn, is affecting the environment, resulting in further ecological and economic decay.

He contends that activities in the Vaal river, tourism and other water-based economic activities can be negatively affected by pollution.

Mistry notes that the local, wider population has also not been provided with adequate sanitation services, as pit latrine toilets are still prevalent and used in many schools.

This also poses significant risks to health and safety practices and hygiene.

Slow Infrastructure Investments

Mistry stresses that the slow rate of infrastructure investment in the local water infrastructure sector is delaying progress in fixing infrastructure, as well as modernising relevant systems to optimally service local communities.

“There is however currently a renewed focus on finding solutions. It is important for the public sector and private sector to work together to solve sanitation issues. “The modelling, however, of such partnerships needs to be refined and they need to be facilitated for the end benefit of service delivery.”

The adoption of technology to optimise networks will also be critical to manage wastewater more effectively, he adds.

Technology that provides insights can assist in ensuring that investments are made “in the right places for greater gains in the network”.

This will help ensure better use of infrastructure, drive efficiencies, reduce maintenance, reduce downtime and planning for the future so that “the local sector can react proactively”.

Xylem Solutions and Trends

Amid these challenges, Xylem is ideally placed to offer a range of solutions to the local wastewater sector, says Mistry.

He emphasises that the company – under the umbrella of Xylem Vue – offers a “unified set of digital solutions to capture, analyse and act on data meaningfully”.

The applications these solutions are made for – such as optimising wastewater networks, managing assets, monitoring pumps solutions or using digital twins to determine impact and outcomes – contribute to a “holistic approach for the whole water management network”.

Mistry also adds that smart water solutions enhance every step of wastewater collection and transport, and reduce overflows, energy use and operating costs.

Xylem provides a specific technology – this solution includes the Flygt Concertor pump – on pumping wastewater, as the company was the first in the local market to market wastewater pumps with built-in intelligence to manage the efficiency of pumps.

Through specialist brands such as Wedeco, Leopold and Sanitaire, Xylem has adopted more environment-friendly solutions using ultraviolet (UV) solutions and Ozone in the treatment of wastewater.

“Adoption of digital technology can bring far greater control and optimisation of networks and reduce costs. “Movement away from traditional chemical disinfection to UV and Ozone – which have far greater benefits in water quality, sustainability and safety – can also be beneficial.”

This comes in addition to the company’s “best-in-class” filtration systems, and condition assessments solution that allows for networks to be assessed for preventative maintenance and lower repair costs.

Mistry highlights that a significant trend in water treatment is in decentralised wastewater management and treatment, which allows for treatment to be specifically applied to the type of wastewater needed.

For example, wastewater from homes can be treated differently from industrial wastewater.

Decentralised wastewater management and treatment can also offer solutions for operations in more remote locations.

Mistry adds that while these trends apply to the global market, concepts such as decentralised systems are ideal for countries, such as South Africa, where key infrastructure nodes may be spread far apart.

“With deep expertise, we can offer companies and municipalities holistic solutions to ensure the various components of the system work well together. We want to capitalise on opportunities to build or modernise wastewater treatment systems to be best-in-class, well optimised and well-managed systems,” he concludes.

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

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