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Emergency re-use of treated effluent for the George Municipality, South Africa

George has a historical annual average rainfall of 712.3 mm, but only received an average of 375 mm in 2009, plunging the area into severe drought.

This prompted the City of George to implement a scheme for the indirect re-use of treated effluent. This scheme, which forms part of the Municipality’s Raw Water Augmentation Plan drawn up in 2005 by Aurecon, will ensure a sustainable supply of raw water to meet potable water demands within the George Municipal area.

Aurecon and SSI were appointed to undertake the necessary design, formulation of tender documents for the construction phase and overall monitoring of the construction works for the indirect re-use of the treated effluent scheme.

Initially, the project will add 10 Ml/day to the Garden Route Dam. This could potentially be expanded to 35 Ml/day by incorporating a further 10 Ml/day of effluent from the Gwaiing Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) and an additional 15 Ml/day of effluent from the future upgrading of the Outeniqua WWTW.

From a resource perspective, the indirect re-use of treated effluent is not only environmentally sustainable, but also economically sustainable, as water that has already been collected from natural raw water resources can be safely recycled and continuously used. This reduces the demand on other natural water resources and nullifies the need to develop new natural resources.

In 2010, the ‘Emergency re-use of treated effluent for the George Municipality’ scheme won the Institute of Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa (IMESA) award for the best Community Upliftment project in South Africa. A key criterion for this category is the project’s response to community needs, and this scheme was vital in helping secure a sustainable and safe water supply for the citizens of the George Municipality.