dws-vei-mou-coe-signing-ceremony-770px-1Representatives of the South African water company eThekwini Water and Sanitation from Durban, signed a memorandum of understanding with four Dutch partners to demonstrate new Dutch developed water technologies in South Africa.

The MOU was signed on location of the storm surge barrier Maeslantkering on 11 June and marked the official launch of the joint Dutch-South African Centre of Expertise in Durban.

Showcasing new technologies
The Centre of Expertise will conduct showcases (e.g. pilots) with Dutch water technologies that are new for South Africa. The results of these showcases will be presented to other water companies in South Africa and Southern Africa.

The MoU was signed on the Dutch side by two international operating water supply companies World Waternet and Vitens Evides International, trainingl institute World Water Academy, business development firm Your Man on Site.

The network organisation Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) facilitated the partnership and stays committed on behalf of the Dutch water sector.

Huge backlog in water supply
dws-vei-mou-coe-water-supply-durban-350px-1Project manager Dhevan Govender of eThekwini Water & Sanitation is excited about the new centre. "Until recent Durban had a huge backlog in water supply and sanitation. Ten years ago we started an ambitious plan to catch up this backlog connecting many communities, including the placement of yard water tanks and urine diversion dehydration toilets in the peri-urban and rural areas of the city."

Govender continues: "The communities reacted enthusiastically and we now see that our water and sanitation services prevents migration to the urban areas of the city. Now we started looking ahead as the population is growing fast and we need more sustainable water treatment and distribution technologies and processes. The Centre of expertise can be a platform for us to showcase new sustainable solutions."

Innovation peer
"We can hold the torch when it comes to innovation", explains Govender. "In South Africa we are seen as the innovation peers and smaller municipalities turn to us when it comes to the introduction of new water technologies and operational processes.

Govender expects one of the first show cases to be a modular build ultrafiltration plant for drinking water. "We are in talks with a Dutch supplier regarding a containerized ultra filtration treatment plant that can easily be expanded when the water demand increases. We also consider the option of remote control to reduce operational costs.

"The new centre is a bridge head between the development of new water technology in the Netherlands and the daily water operations in South Africa. It creates a win-win situation. Dutch water technology companies having an entrance to the South African water market and eThekwini gaining experience with new technologies", explains Schouten. 

dws-vei-mou-coe-world-water-academy-350pxTraining included
The MoU was also signed by World Water Academy. "Innovation is much more than just new equipment. Operators much have the skills to operate the high-tech installation and processes", adds director Agnes Maenhout. Her foundation is the leading water training institute in the Netherlands and has been involved in preparations for the centre.

Exam by walking around
"We have developed customized training modules for the South African operators of centralized water treatment plants. For this we adapted the training programmes we normally use in the Netherlands. For instance, we introduced a very practical examination with student and examiner walking around at the treatment plant. The examiner asks questions about the color of the water, a smell or the meaning of a safety sign."

According to Maenhout the examination method worked so well that it is considered to use in the Netherlands too. World Water Academy will stay involved for further development of the training programmes.

The centre's initial focus is primarily on the reduction of non-revenue water, asset management, improve the wastewater chain and  energy efficiency.

More information
Centre of Expertise
c/o EWS
Durban, South Africa

Vitens Evides International
Leo Meijer
Durban, South Africa