VENTURES: Cape Town's 'Green Drop' Awards
Recent Western Cape Business News
The National Department of Water Affairs’ system of 'Green Drop' Awards provides an assessment of the overall performance of the country's wastewater treatment works and the City of Cape Town has fared well this year with eight of its waste water treatment works being awarded.
Alderman Clive Justus, the City's Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, said: "We are pleased that, as a result of the significant upgrading activities, the sourcing of suitably skilled staff to operate these works and the replacement of ageing infrastructure, the City has fared exceptionally well amongst the other Metros, i.e. City of Johannesburg, eThekweni (Durban) and Tshwane ( Pretoria) and Local Municipalities such as George and Mbombela (Nelspruit)."
The 'Green Drop' Report states that the country runs a significant waste water business with an estimated capital cost replacement value of more than R23 billion with an operational maintenance expenditure in excess of R3,5 billion per year.
"The Report states that some 850 municipal waste water treatment plants exist across South Africa, of which only 449 were assessed, with only 203 plants achieving better than a 50% score in the audit, measured against stringent assessment criteria. The reason for the low assessed figure is that many authorities did not respond to the call to have their plants assessed," Justus said.
The 'Green Drop' assessment and audit process is considered to be more stringent than the 'Blue Drop' drinking water initiative where the City of Cape Town achieved a Blue Drop Award, as there are far more wastewater treatment plants than drinking water systems.
A practical example is in greater Cape Town, where there is only one integrated drinking water system, whilst there are 23 stand-alone wastewater sewerage systems and associated treatment plants, all of which are judged individually.
"There is obviously room for improvement, but there are valid reasons as to why some of our works did not meet the 'Green Drop' standards this year," Justus said.
"A number of the existing works are overloaded and are undergoing upgrading and extensions to accommodate the increase in demand and improve the quality of effluent being discharged. Some projects are at the EIA consultation stages, prior to the detailed planning for extensions. It is also worth noting that the City is upgrading the technical designs of some of the older waste water treatment plants, to improve the quality of effluent e.g. the disinfection upgrade projects that are currently underway at the Athlone and Bellville treatment works,” Justus explained.
The City has a ten year strategic upgrade and treatment capacity extension programme for wastewater treatment which is a rolling ten year programme revised/updated every year for the expected changes required in the next ten year period.
The past recent three financial years from 2007/2008 to 2009/2010 has seen an average of some R200 million capital expenditure per financial year spent on upgrading and extensions to the Athlone, Bellville, Cape Flats, Potsdam, and Scottsdene waste water treatment works. A new treatment works is currently under construction near Fisantekraal to serve housing developments in the Northern Spatial Development Framework.
The next ten year programme starting in 2010/2011 has approved capital budgets totalling R706,8 million in financial years 2010/2011 to 2012/2013 and estimates of similar amounts required in the following years for a variety of projects to address treatment capacity to cater for housing development, improve effluent quality, general upgrading and refurbishment/replacement of aging equipment and structures.
In addition the Wesfleur wastewater treatment works in Atlantis received the Water Institute of South Africa’s Wilson Award at the recently held WISA Conference in Durban for the best run smaller wastewater treatment works in South Africa.
At the WISA 2008 Conference the City received the Second Runner-up Wilson Award for its Gordon’s Bay works and the Third Runner-up Wilson Award for its Wildevoëlvlei works.
The waste water treatment works, that achieved the 90% pass mark necessary for this year’s 'Green Drop' awards were: The Cape Flats Works, Llandudno Macassar, Melkbosstrand, Mitchells Plain, Oudekraal, Parow and Wesfleur. Six of the eight achieved an outstanding 97% score.
The average score for all the City’s 23 treatment works was a well deserved 82%. Cape Town and George Municipality were the only two local authorities in the Western Cape to satisfy and meet all the DWA requirements.
The lack of trained staff, the shortage of funding and inadequacy of the smaller local authorities to address this function, were amongst reasons for failure identified in the DWA report, in referring to the many works across the country that did not come up to the required standards.
The Department of Water Affairs’ report concludes that “the overall waste water quality management performance for the City of Cape Town is very good”.
“This reflects well on the staff who serve in this sector,” said Alderman Justus. “Sewage treatment is a 24 hour a day, seven days a week service, which just keeps coming and where prompt and necessary action is often needed to prevent gross pollution of rivers and other receiving water bodies. The City can rightly be proud of staff working in this service.”
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