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Windhoek Mayor honours world leaders in recycled water

Back row from the left: City of Windhoek Strategic Executive Piet du Pisani, Jacob Sakaria, Jurgen Menge, Simon Matheus, Frans Mwafangeyo and Willie Harmse. From left to right seated: Willie Grabow, Lukas van Vuuren, Mayor of Windhoek, her Worship Agnes Kafula, Ronnie van Steenderen and Piet Meiring. (Photograph by Hilmah Hashange)

Back row from the left: City of Windhoek Strategic Executive Piet du Pisani, Jacob Sakaria, Jurgen Menge, Simon Matheus, Frans Mwafangeyo and Willie Harmse. From left to right seated: Willie Grabow, Lukas van Vuuren, Mayor of Windhoek, her Worship Agnes Kafula, Ronnie van Steenderen and Piet Meiring. (Photograph by Hilmah Hashange)

In 1963 when the Municipality of Windhoek commissioned the world’s first direct recycling system for potable water from sewage effluent, the then mayor, Mr Jaap Snyman took charge of the formalities, telling  everybody what a remarkable technological achievement water reclamation offered.

At the function, leading Windhoek socialite and wife of a prominent property developer, Mrs Liselotte Lafrenz complained about the water’s odour.
Never short of a glib comeback, Snyman, in his slow drawl retorted, Madam we have managed to sieve out the turds, but the farts still slip through (in Afrikaans).
This week another Windhoek mayor at an equally momentous occasion honoured the pioneer water experts who had the foresight then, to ensure that Windhoek will not run out of fresh water for its residents at some point in its future.
The successor plant to the first reclamation works, the Goreangab Water Reclamation Plant was launched in 1968.
Some 45 years later Windhoek and Namibia still lead the way globally regarding direct potable reuse of sewage effluent.
At a gala dinner, hosted by Windhoek Mayor her Worship Agnes Kafula, on the sidelines of the International Water Association’s (IWA) 9th Conference on Water Reuse, the history and the contribution of the first eight water pioneers were commemorated.
“Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right.
Safe and clean drinking water is essential to the full enjoyment of life,” Kafula said.
The Mayor noted that the United Nations General Assembly in July 2010 voiced its deep concern that almost 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water and over 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation.
Kafula thanked the pioneers of the Goreangab Water Reclamation Plant for their vision and effort to sustain Windhoek’s water supply allowing the city to grow and develop. “Thank you to the pioneers that have made it possible that we are here today.
We are proud of you and wish you good health. God bless you,” she said.
Of the pioneers that were honoured, four men were part of the team that originally designed and operated the plant and ensured the quality of drinking water.
Over the course of their careers they grew to be world renowned water reuse experts.
These men are Professor Willie Grabow, Piet Meiring, Dr. Lukas van Vuuren and Dr. Ronald van Steenderen.
In addition four workers at the plant were honoured who laboured at the plant for decades and made sure Windhoek had a steady supply of clean drinking water, these were: Simon Matheus, Jakob Sakaria, Frans Mwafangeyo and Willie Harmse.
Finally Jurgen Menge, secretary of the conference was honoured for his lifelong dedication to ensure the safety of drinking water as a microbiologist and former head of Gammans Water Care Works.

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