Second webinar – Water reclamation

By Celma Janeiro and Noor Gulamussen

On 14 October 2020 we had our second webinar, with more than 60 participants. Read all about it below.

Background

After the introduction, in the first webinar covering the concepts of Urban Water Cycle and Integrated Urban Water Management, and a detailed discussion on how these approaches can support the sustainable development of Maputo, the second webinar focuses on the elements that allow closing the Urban Water Cycle – water reclamation. In this second webinar there were four presentations by Jules van Lier, Nelson Matsinhe (UEM), Noor Gulamussen and Celma Janeiro. As before the event was moderated by Luuk Rietveld and Bento Mualoja (AQUASHARE).

The presentations

The first presentation was given by Jules van Lier with the topic wastewater treatment and water reclamation for agriculture use. Jules started discussing the level of treatment needed for wastewater. If wastewater is not treated, it ends up polluting the environment and affecting negatively the public health whereas if wastewater is treated, it can be an alternative source and provider of nutrients for agriculture. He mentioned some important facts on water reuse, the benefits and the requirements for reuse in agriculture.


Some facts about water reclamation around the world.

He then dived into the constrains of water reclamation; brought aspects such as concern of pathogens, e.g. worms, bacteria, viruses, protozoa; salts; excess of nutrients; heavy metals and chemical pollutants, e.g. from industrial discharges; and micro pollutants; and finalised with strategies and technology options for irrigation.

The second presenter was Nelson Matsinhe (UEM) who dived into Water reclamation as alternative to reduce pressure in freshwater sources: Opportunities and challenges in national context of Mozambique. His talk was about the driving forces for water reclamation, the benefits, applications, practices, challenges and opportunities for Mozambique and finalised with the summary below:

  • Wastewater reclamation offers large opportunities to reduce pressure on fresh water sources and public water supplies by using marginal water for non-consumptive activates (e.g. urban landscaping, firefighting, car washing, industrial activates etc.);
  • It is a way of promoting sound IWRM principles and good and sustainable water demand management practices.
  • It provides an opportunity to promote urban agriculture and thus improve urban families livelihoods and income.

Nelson went on arguing that, in the Mozambican Context, the practice of water reclamation associated with some challenges, notably:

  • For massification there is need for large investments in infrastructure,
  • Methods of supply (centralised, decentralised) vs roles and responsibilities of key actors,
  • Current Legislation (reforms might be needed),
  • Acceptance (social and cultural aspects).

The third presenter was Noor Jehan Gulamussen who talked about water reclamation for industries. After introducing the challenges of the water sector of Maputo, she presented the results of Maputo City Blue Print, a method that assesses the sustainability of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in municipalities and regions through 25 indicators and provides cities with a quick and useful snapshot of their current urban water management policies. Based on an assessment of data from various sources, the average of the 25 City Blueprint indicators, i.e. the Blue City Index, for Maputo was calculated to be 1.8. This very low score is partially explained by the lack of sanitation infrastructure: almost 90% of the city’s population rely on on-site sanitation, but has limited access to faecal sludge management services. In addition, less than 10% of the generated wastewater is treated at a central treatment plant.

The fact that in Maputo severe water scarcity exists, industries are located relatively close to sewage water sources, and potentially can use lower quality than drinking water for their processes and cooling, makes Maputo an attractive city to implement water reclamation projects, increasing urban water sustainability. Followed presentation of the tree possibilities for water reclamation in Maputo, for uses in construction industry, in cooling systems at Maputo Power Plant and at Banco de Moçambique. And concluded that:

  • There is high potential to use reclaimed water for cooling, construction industry and car wash in Maputo city.
  • The treatment required depend on the quality required for the intended use. It can be less the price of drinking water for construction or more than double the price of drinking water for cooling.
  • There are companies willing to invest.
  • The Government of Mozambique should support the initiative with laws and regulations that can protect both investors and beneficiaries.
  • The success of this projects can be an incentive to upgrade existing wastewater infrastructure and operation as there is opportunity to use all produced wastewater that is conveyed to the treatment plant at Infulene.

Celma gave the last presentation talking about water reclamation for irrigation which covered water reclamation for irrigation examples in the world, and the widely used guidelines to control the quality of irrigation water and current practices on water reclamation for irrigation in Maputo. The key take-home message is that water reclamation is informally practiced in many parts of the world including in Maputo and the guidelines are not adequate for the local conditions. An option could be the use of a multiple barrier approach to reduce risks which focuses on creating barriers in the chain from wastewater production to the market. Since farmers are already using partially treated wastewater to produce their crops to supply local markets in Maputo this approach might be considered. Apart from the current treatment, focuses on adopting measures in fields such as irrigation type, crop selection or in Market by the implementation of appropriate cleaning produces before the produce is made available to the consumers. Those can also adopt extra measures when washing the produces at home.


A multiple-barrier approach to reduce the health risk of irrigating crops with (partially) treated wastewater.

Conclusions

The proof that we capture the attention of the vast audience was reflected on the questions and interaction with the presenters that evidenced the importance of water reclamation as part of the implementation of integrated water resources management strategy in Mozambique.

The materials

If you wish to (re-)watch the whole event please check our YouTube channel:

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To download the presentation please use this link.

Next step

In a couple of weeks we will have our third webinar focusing on Governance aspects of multiple uses of water and integrated and inclusive Urban Water Management in Maputo with presentations by Barbara van Koppen (IWMI), Natalia Reyes Tejada, Adriano Biza and .

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