Veolia’s flagship O&M contract – 15 years down the line

2016 marks the 15th anniversary of Veolia’s flagship operations and maintenance contract – the Durban Water Recycling Plant (DWRP). Commissioned in May 2001, this plant is an ideal example of a Public Private Partnership where a local municipality supplies domestic and industrial effluent for treatment to near potable standards and then distributes it to local industry for direct reuse in their industrial processes. In this case, the companies involved are Mondi and Sapref.

Veolia’s scope of work under the 20-year O+M contract includes responsibility for managing the water through the entire value chain. This incorporates wastewater catchment, conveyance, trade effluent control, preliminary and primary treatment, secondaryand tertiary treatment,reclaimed water reticulation and utilisation. “Thanks to our 25-person strong dedicated onsite O+M team, we have remained consistent in our management of these functions over the past 15 years,” comments Sagren Govender, General Manager, KZN Solutions, Veolia Water Technologies South Africa.

In addition to the O+M scope of work, Veolia implemented a comprehensive risk management programme to minimise and mitigate the project risks to clients, the community, employees, the environment, partners and shareholders. The programme considers aspects pertaining to risks affecting electro-mechanical, process and quality, environmental and health & safety. The success of this programme led to Veolia at DWRP being awarded the ISO 9001 Quality Management System certification in 2012, which was recertified in 2015 and is valid until 2018. In 2016, the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System was implemented and all stages of the certification audit have been concluded, leading to a recommendation for certification by the SABS.

With only 5 years remaining in the contractual period, Sagren says he and the team undertake to continue consistently delivering the high service levels Durban Water and industry beneficiaries have come to expect. “We’re also increasing awareness of the financial and environmental benefits that can be derived from switching to a reclaimed water source from potable water, as this project has proven,” he says. “The current protracted drought has brought to the fore the benefits for industry in using reclaimed water as opposed to potable water for their process needs. While all potable water users had to reduce their off take by 15%, those industries that receive reclaimed waterenjoyed continuous supply with no restrictions and therefore did not have to reduce production.”

He adds that the water catchment available to Durban City is at the limit of its resource capacity and increased bulk water supply to the city can only be undertaken by means of extremely expensive inter-catchment transfer schemes. “This project, therefore, serves to significantly protect and ensure the sustainable development of the City’s existing available water resources. South Africa is a water stressed nation and this project contributes significantly to the preservation of natural water resources. In addition, the project is the first of its kind in South Africa and may be regarded as a model for this type of approach to water resource management in our country – and the continent.”

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