DAY 14 – BIOMIMICRY 9 – CLAIRE

Wastewater infrastructure is based on a centralised mindset and the centralised wastewater system makes perfect sense in the context of the past. In the Durban project that I referred to just now and the stormwater drain, we spoke about the resilience of Durban as it developed. The Durban project that we worked on was around the Durban airport, there was a whole lot of developments happening all around it, and those developments were being stopped, because when we did the calculations, the wastewater treatment works are currently working at 1 megaliter per day. They would have to go to 130 megaliters and just on that river system and this one would go from 10 to 150 megaliters just on that river system. That’s not fast when rapid urbanisation is happening. So you can imagine if you’ve got all of the estuaries here. This estuary, the Umdloti estuary, is already damaged by the one megaliter per day, becoming an open estuary and it shouldn’t be, and so is the Tongaat estuary having problems. Treating the water is fine, and if you let it go, you have 150 megaliters a day, which turns this more into a waterfall than an estuary.

So if you have a centralised water system and let all of the water out at one point, what does that look like as opposed to lots of little distributed decentralised ways of letting the water out little by little? That would have a different impact and at what scale can you actually do it?

So there is a heck of a lot of people realising that not only is there a water scarcity requirement but there is an ecological requirement for us to start recycling and reusing water.

So there are a lot of people saying, how can we get our wastewater utilities to be fitting into the circular…

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