Wastewater Resource Efficiency

Wastewater treatment and sludge management including disposal has quickly became a problem for most municipalities and water utilities. Most treatment plants were (and are still being) designed to prioritize only the treatment of liquid streams over solids and resource recovery. This is despite the wastewater treatment field having made a number of discoveries and technologies that offer answer on how resources contained in wastewater can be recycled.

Session Focus
The session will be started by a presentation and talks on what an ideal resource recovery wastewater treatment plant looks like. These will be followed by a discussion and preset questions aimed at addressing the difficulty in achieving this ideal. The bottlenecks experienced by water service authorities, the ideal delivery model for these projects and finding the right market for the resources recovered will be discussed. This is aimed at coming up with a high-level guideline to make implementation of such projects easier and more streamlined. Current projects and collaboration opportunities will also be discussed.

To establish such cooperation the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure & Water Management together with the Dutch Regional Water Authorities started a worldwide program: ‘Blue Deal’. The Blue Deal is a program to establish long lasting partnerships between the Dutch Water Authorities and water professionals in different countries to provide 20 million people in 40 water management areas with improved flood prevention, water availability and sanitation by the year 2030.

Such Blue Deal Partnerships are established between the Dutch Water Authorities and the water professionals in South Africa, in eSwatini and in Mozambique. They will present themselves and the challenges for the coming years.

Wetskills Foundation plays an important role in the combination of intergenerational forces in this South Africa – The Netherlands cooperation on water. Since 2012 Wetskills Foundation organizes its biannual Wetskills Water Challenge in South Africa, always aligned and in cooperation with the WISA Conference. The Wetskills Challenge is a two week period where young talents with various background come together, work in mixed teams on water challenges formulated by sector partners. This year Wetskills Foundation and partners prepared the fifth Wetskills Challenges in South Africa. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this live event is postponed to February-March 2021.

In recent years the Department of Water and Sanitation of South Africa partnered Wetskills foundation to bring-in and support young talents from South Africa in Wetskills Challenges worldwide. Many other partners in South Africa, Southern Africa and The Netherlands are supporting the Wetskills Challenge programmes in the region.