A Windhoek Goreangab Operating Company (Wingoc) employee inspecting effluent during the treatment process at the New Goreangab Water Reclamation Plant.
  • Cape Town is set to run out of water on 9 July unless winter rains arrive. 
  • Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, started using treated sewage as drinking water in 1968. 
  • In 2002, a new plant was built supplying up to 25% of the city's water needs. 
  • Treated sewage is planned to make up only 10% of Cape Town's water increased water supply.

Cape Town could learn a thing or two from Windhoek, which gets 25% of its water supply from treated sewage water.

The Namibian capital first starting using treated water for drinking in 1968 after the city's fountains, which first attracted settlers in the 1800s, ran dry.

The city's only solution was to do what hadn't been done anywhere else before: take water directly from the sewage treatment plant and treat it until it's safe enough to drink. 

The technology could be used to address Cape Town's ongoing water crisis, Windhoek Goreangab Operating Company spokesperson Thomas Honer told Business Insider South Africa. 

Cape Town, home to over three million people, is set to run out of water on 9 July unless winter rains arrive. 

Treated effluent is set to make up only 10% of Cape Town's water augmentation schemes, delivering 10 million litres of water through the Zandvliet reclaimed water plant by June 2018. 

We are the first place in the world ever to direct reclaim secondary effluent and was the only place in the world for more than four decades. Only rather recently a few more direct potable reuse plants entered operation.
Wingoc spokesperson, Thomas Honer

Honer says Singapore and Orange County in California are the only other metropolitan areas reclaiming wastewater for drinking purposes. 

In 2002, using 30 years of knowledge, Windhoek constructed the New Goreangab Water Reclamation Plant just metres from where the original plant stood. 

Honer says the city does not disclose the operating cost of the plant. 

An aerial photo of the New Goreangab Water Reclamation Plant.

He admits that there is public apprehension to water reuse, but the city has implemented a public campaign to convince residents that it is a good idea.

"We encourage people, especially pupils and students, to visit the plant and with that we spread the way we operate to residents," he said. 

The system is also designed to shut off immediately if there is any deviation from the water treatment process. 

The treated effluent is also tested daily to ensure its safety.

"Not one person, according to our knowledge, has fallen ill from our treated effluent water," Honer says. 

The City of Windhoek plans to expand the New Goreangab Water reclamation plant in the near future, Honer says. 

"The plant has been operating at or very close to its maximum capacity," he says. 

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