R1bn water recycling project for Coega

MASS CONSTRUCTION: Workers at the reservoir at Coega Kop, which will recycle waste water for industrial use
MASS CONSTRUCTION: Workers at the reservoir at Coega Kop, which will recycle waste water for industrial use

FACED with increasing pressure from business to guarantee water supply, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and Coega Development Corporation will be turning waste into water through a massive R1-billion recycling project.

The project – referred to as the Return Effluent Scheme – will increase the Bay’s water supply to the Coega Industrial Development Zone by about 30 megalitres a day at first, and eventually 110 megalitres per day once the entire project is complete.

This will be done by taking the effluent from the Fishwater Flats wastewater treatment works and recycling it for industrial use. This water will not be used for drinking.

The entire project – worth more than R1-billion – is set to create 1100 jobs during the first phase and an additional 742 thereafter.

This is a huge project for the Bay, as it will ensure water security for the two proposed smelters, the Mthombo oil refinery and two cement companies that have already signed lease agreements with the CDC.

The municipality and CDC need R532-million for the first phase of the project and an additional R560-million for phase two. Coega has managed to secure R60-million from the Eastern Cape government, which is being used for the construction of a concrete reservoir and pipes.

They are hoping to get the rest of the money needed through various government grants.

CDC spokesman Ayanda Vilakazi said: “The CDC and NMBM are looking at securing further funds for each of our respective elements of the scheme from a range of sources, including government and grant funding, and assisting each other in the search for funding.”

The R60-million already received will secure 15 megalitres of water in the reservoir although ordinary, potable water will be used at first instead of the recycled industrial water.

Infrastructure and engineering department head councillor Andile Mfunda said this was only until the proper treatment infrastructure at Fishwater Flats was in place to treat the effluent to meet the required higher industrial water standards.

The municipality needs R182-million to upgrade the Fishwater Flats to accommodate the recycling, which has all been budgeted for in the current and upcoming financial years.

“The initial requirement for industrial water is estimated at 30Ml/d with the ultimate requirement being 110Ml/d,” Mfunda said.

“The project is dependent on the investors taking up activities within the Coega IDZ. However, the first 30Ml/d is expected to be fully operational in three years should all the funding be in place.”

Vilakazi said the scheme represented a “turnkey piece of infrastructure” that would be able to attract large- scale investors to the city.

“The Return Effluent scheme puts the Coega IDZ – and the city of Nelson Mandela Bay – on another playing field altogether, hence the commitment to the investment and finding additional funding to bring this project to life.

“In terms of stand-alone infrastructure investment, this project is high up there as one of the biggest projects in the Coega IDZ to date,” he said.

“In addition to direct job opportunities, the resultant attraction of mega-investments would also spill over into the job market, creating tens of thousands of jobs.”

In a report to the infrastructure and engineering committee, which met last Friday, director of water and sanitation Barry Martin said: “Studies indicate that as industries develop within the Coega IDZ, there will be a significant demand for industrial water.

“The establishment of an alternative supply of industrial quality water for the Coega IDZ is key to attracting development and sustaining marketability of the industrial zone to new investors, particularly the large consumers of water.

“While user demands vary considerably between industries, the CDC has confirmed that a manganese smelter is highly likely and is to be commissioned during later 2015.

“Industries outside the IDZ in the Markman and Deal Party industrial areas have expressed interest in utilising this industrial water, instead of the potable water currently received from [the municipality],” Martin said. – Rochelle de Kock

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