Water too precious – du Pisani
Piet du Pisani, Strategic Executive for Infrastructure Water Technical Services at the City of Windhoek says that the realization that water is too precious a commodity to use only once and then discard, is spreading.
Following the very successful Water Reuse conference in Windhoek recently, du Pisani told The Economist this week that the importance of seeing waste water not as a waste product, but rather as one of the blue resources of the future, was proclaimed by many participants.
“Windhoek is a living example that even the top mode of reuse, potable reuse, is feasible and practical and safe,” said du Pisani
Du Pisani was responding to inquires about the outcome of the 9th International Water Association’s (IWA) Conference which was held from 27 and 31 October in Windhoek.
The conference brought together close to 400 water experts of whom almost 300 were from abroad. The water experts debated various issues around water reuse and recycling. Namibia is a pioneer in potable water reuse with the Goreangab Reclamation Plant that has been providing drinking water to the growing capital for the past 45 years.
“A conference delegate spends on average N$2000 per day on accommodation, local travel, purchases etc.
Except for the direct conference income of around N$5,000,000, the delegate spending would have contributed another N$3,000,000 to the local economy over the average of five days that they spent in Namibia. Quite a large number also used the opportunity to explore Namibia and all feedback received, indicated very positive impressions for future tourism,” he said.
Du Pisani further said the Conference was extremely well received by the delegates adding that the organisers have not received any negative feedback from any of the delegates. “ Except for one delegate who complained of an upset stomach, but that was all.”
“The Chairperson of the IWA Reuse Specialist group, indicated that the Windhoek Conference was one of the best conferences that she had attended, both in terms of scientific content as well as the social programme. People were really impressed with Windhoek and what had been achieved here in terms of water management. The local and international Water Community really embraced the conference and our sponsors made it possible for us to present a top class conference,” he added.
With regards to water availability in the City for the next few years, du Pisani said although the situation is not yet critical, water stocks are substantially lower than the same time last year. The past rainy season yielded no inflow into the dams of NamWater.
“The situation is not yet critical, but failure to receive inflow this rainy season, will lead to serious water savings and even possible rationing. The situation is not good,” he said.
To date, Windhoek is still one of the only places in the world where sewage effluent is directly treated into potable water. At the water reuse conference, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Hon. John Mutorwa said the government intends to make mega-investment in the long-term in water infrastructure.
According to Mutorwa, his ministry has also commissioned a study to conduct an Engineering and Environmental assessment of all options for the augmentation of subterranean water for Windhoek and for the Cuvelai drainage are in Owamboland.