Why is the majority of Knysna’s waste water not meeting standards?” asked John.Buchanan, a retired specialist and engineer.
He was at the Section 80 Technical Services meeting on April 12 to call for the use of alternative technologies, different attitude and skills. He was addressing politicians and municipal staff.
“Unfortunately,” Buchanan stated, “a lot of the new technologies are not being utilised by smaller municipalities such as Knysna.”
He quoted from an CSRI report on the South African situation which found that the main problems were:
- An over reliance on consultants who normally belong to the civil engineering industry rather than chemical engineering. “It’s a strong statement but a true statement,” Buchanan said. “Waste water treatment is a chemical process.”
- Some consultants have exploited municipalities.
- Inappropriate technology that is sometimes not required or its use is not fully understood.
John Buchanan added that consultants and municipalities were too often unwilling to look at alternative technologies, too willing, in the majority, to stick with what they know even if it isn’t working.
NEW WASTE WATER PLANT COSTS
One megalitre (mL) equals 1 million litres.
Towards a solution, a new 9mL plant would result in 6mL high quality wastewater. This would cost R60-million. If a second 3mL plant were added, producing a similar amount of drinking water, the price increases to, maximum, R100-million. All equipment would be made in South Africa. The lifespan on mechanical equipment is approximately 15 years. The plant space required is 5000m2, more or less the size of a rugby field.
John Buchanan promised a workshop at the end of May and encouraged councillors and relevant municipal staff to attend.
Councillor Peter Myers said that he understood that a new plant was needed but that he hoped that the workshop would include solutions to our current waste water plant’s crisis which finds the environment being damaged.
Although Myers never stated the damage, it’s possible that he was referring to the massive amounts of chlorine that were used during the December/January holiday season. The chemicals would have harmed the Knysna Estuary.
John Buchanan reiterated his theme of the right people for the job with, “It’s essential that a Project Manager be appointed and that he/she be a chemical engineer. Over the long-term, there’d be major savings on consultants.”
The Knysna Municipality is in a difficult position, needing to balance urgency versus available budget.