Sunday Times Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

I write as a concerned citizen and water specialist in response to the op-ed by Makhosini Mgitywa, 22 September (We are facing a water crisis that can and will be averted). Like the author, I believe water will be the most in-demand natural resource.

As South Africa grows, we will need more water. We must plan to use our water to its maximum capacity.

We must follow international trends in water re-use and change the paradigm of water and waste management to recycle every drop of water via decentralised water treatment plants.

Our water crisis is months away from surpassing our energy crisis.  Our national water and sanitation department has neglected these basic human rights. There has been very poor planning, judging by the state of wastewater plants and water treatment plants.

As is the norm in many foreign cities, we need to take domestic wastewater back to drinking water standards.

Every town in South Africa could be reusing their wastewater.

Singapore, doesn’t have their own freshwater sources and are leaders in water reuse. They recover 100 percent of their wastewater. They call it NEWater, not “recycled” or “reused” water. They have changed consumer perceptions.

Windhoek, has been reusing water for 40 years.

Reuse – along with desalination – will be the solutions to augment other water sources.

Our company, QFS, takes domestic wastewater directly back to drinking water with membrane treatment.  The world-class technology is proven to produce drinking water to World Health Organization standards. We’ve successfully installed more than 40 plants – a combination of desalination, reuse of industrial wastewater, process water and mine water.  The mature technology for water re-use have been used in Beaufort West, Ballito and De Doorns valley.

We need to educate people that you can take water, treat it – and then drink it from a glass FILLED AT the same plant.

My dream is that every water source is protected and used optimally for the benefit of people in the vicinity. Wastewater is also a source of water if treated correctly with the suitable technologies. Wastewater from each municipal treatment works can be treated to drinking water quality and used as a supplement to surface and ground water sources.

Water re-use facilities are also a local job creator. The water going out to the rivers and oceans can be intercepted for re-use while creating additional jobs for local communities.

There is a reluctance in some quarters to reuse water because of the “yuck” factor – but the water coming out of our wastewater plants is sometimes better than the quality of the water from our rivers because of the vast amounts of untreated sewage being dumped into our rivers.

Reduce red tape so the private sector can partner with government to co-create water solutions.

Public/private partnerships are essential and QFS offers our services to be part of the water solution.

In summary, I believe in our water challenged country, localised water reuse, the use of existing technology and the decentralised treatment of water to reduce the city-wide pumping of water is essential.



Herman Smit

Managing Director

Quality Filtration Systems

60 de Kok Street, Strand

Tel: 021-853 5248 or 083 269 5441




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