CuveWaters: Sanitation & Water Reuse in Namibia
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TOPIC: CuveWaters: Sanitation & Water Reuse in Namibia

CuveWaters: Sanitation & Water Reuse in Namibia 31 Mar 2014 17:02 #8044

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Right in time for the celebrations of the World Water Day in Namibia, the
new short film about the Outapi sanitation system was released www.cuvewaters.net/Documentary-films.66.0.html

What is the film about?

Water is a scarce commodity in Namibia. The natural resource is coming under increasing pressure due to climate change, a rapidly growing population and the exodus from rural areas. The project team of CuveWaters, led by ISOE – the Institute for Social-Ecological Research, has succeeded in turning wastewater into a resource in this most arid region of the world, so that processed wastewater from sanitary facilities can be used for agricultural purposes.

Approximately 850,000 people live in central northern Namibia. About 40 percent of the population in urban areas don’t have access to adequate sanitary facilities. In order to improve the sometimes dramatic situation for the population, the „Namibian Sanitation Strategy“ recommends using efficient flushing toilets in conjunction with innovative wastewater technologies. As a result, the CuveWaters team has developed a novel sanitation concept plus vacuum system within the framework of an integrated water resources management (IWRM): The sanitary facilities are part of a complex disposal, treatment and reuse system that has been developed together with the local population and with Namibian partners from government and industry.

Energy efficient: Sanitation concept with water reuse in Outapi

The small city of Outapi (Omusati Region/Namibia) was chosen as the site to implement the sanitation system with water reuse. It is home to 4,600 people, of whom 1,500 have been using the new sanitary facilities in a pilot plant since the beginning of 2013. The official handover of this plant to the municipal administration is now coming up on November 1st. The energy-efficient sanitation and wastewater concept in Outapi works this way: A vacuum system transports the wastewater from settlements in Outapi to a processing plant, where it is purified. A multi-step purification process produces hygienically impeccable irrigation water. Together with the nutrients, the purified water is then used in the fields. A farmers’ cooperative works this land and sells the crops at local markets. Biogas is also won in the course of the purification process, which is used to generate power and heat. This covers a percentage of the operating energy of the vacuum canalisation and the wastewater treatment plant.

Promoting millennium goals through the transfer of technology and knowledge

The innovative concept isn’t just ideal for small rural settlements, but also opens up completely new perspectives for rapidly growing urban areas in particular. Within this context it is vitally important to involve the local population, as well as training and educating them. “Together with the ‚Community Health Clubs‘ which have arisen locally and which help people with hygiene issues, CuveWaters also makes sure that knowledge transfer takes place, in addition to technology transfer,” says project leader Thomas Kluge (ISOE). The cultivation of agricultural areas also opens up new sources of income for farmers. “Altogether, this allows us to improve the living conditions of the population over the long term and make a contribution to reaching the millennium goals, which also include safeguarding health.”

For more info, visit www.cuvewaters.net
Alexia Krug von Nidda
Project Coordinator CuveWaters
ISOE-Institute for Social-Ecological Research
Frankfurt
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.cuvewaters.net
www.isoe.de

Re: CuveWaters: Sanitation & Water Reuse in Namibia 01 Apr 2014 08:42 #8054

  • mwink
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Dear Alexia, dear CUVE colleagues,

congratulations for the first CuveWaters post!
I am really happy that you posted the film on the SuSanA Forum as such a large community is present there and eagerly discussing any aspect of sanitation.

I really hope that this is the beginning of a fruitful exchange between the project and SuSanA forum.

All the best,
Martina.
Research unit Water infrastructure and risk analyses
Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE)
Frankfurt, Germany

winker[AT]isoe.de
www.isoe.de
www.saniresch.de
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Re: CuveWaters: Sanitation & Water Reuse in Namibia 07 Apr 2014 22:47 #8144

  • avanepps
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I just watched the new short film, and I hope others will watch it and learn more about your project!

A number of questions occurred to me as I was watching it though, and I was hoping you could share a little more information about your work! First how long has the system been in operation, and how many people in the town does it employ? What has the community's experience been with the vacuum system, and have there been any significant or unexpected operational or maintenance challenges with either the sewer or treatment system itself? If the project were to be replicated elsewhere, how much would you estimate that the entire system would cost per capita? And how much longer is this project funded for?

Sorry to bombard you with questions, but it is a fascinating project that I (and others) would be interested to learn more about! Thanks for sharing it here.

Best wishes,
Amanda

--
Amanda Van Epps
Visiting Fellow
Sustainable Sanitation Programme
and SuSanA Secretariat
GIZ, Eschborn, Germany
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Re: CuveWaters: Sanitation & Water Reuse in Namibia 23 Apr 2014 09:08 #8297

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Dear Amanda,

thank you so much for your kind response and I am very sorry for taking so long with answering your questions.
Here we go.....
First how long has the system been in operation, and how many people in the town does it employ?
The plant is in operation since April 2013. The waste water treatment plant is designed for 1500 people. Currently roughly 700 users are using the services. As the system is under monitoring these are preliminary numbers, e.g. not all individual houses are yet connected to the system and not all cluster washhouse households applied yet for a key.

What has the community's experience been with the vacuum system, and have there been any significant or unexpected operational or maintenance challenges with either the sewer or treatment system itself?
Since beginning of operation no severe incident has been reported. Until now, there has been only one blockage caused by vandalism at a vacuum chamber. The washhouse suffers smaller damages at the shower and toilet cistern handles. The users have been trained in advance on the system, on how to use and maintain the facilities within the programme of community health clubs (CHC).

If the project were to be replicated elsewhere, how much would you estimate that the entire system would cost per capita? And how much longer is this project funded for?

Expenses for investment and operation are subject to ongoing economic evaluation.
The local operators can operate and maintain the plant without much assistance even without external service provider. It is the result of continuous involvement during construction and commissioning as well as intensive training in the initial phase of operation.
From our experience we like to highlight the need of Intensive supervision during the construction phase. Furthermore, it was very crucial to learn from the experiences in other towns that were using the vacuum system.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you like to have further information. We are still in a learning process and I am appreciating any comments.

Best regards

Alexia
Alexia Krug von Nidda
Project Coordinator CuveWaters
ISOE-Institute for Social-Ecological Research
Frankfurt
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.cuvewaters.net
www.isoe.de

Re: CuveWaters: Sanitation & Water Reuse in Namibia 28 Apr 2014 16:16 #8354

  • avanepps
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Dear Alexia,

Thanks too for your answers! I would still be interested in the costs of the project if you have any further data you can share. I did see some cost data in the CuveWaters mid-term project report (www.cuvewaters.net/fileadmin/edit/Downlo...term-report-2013.pdf) from 2013 (page 27).

Would those estimates of the costs still be accurate, or have they been updated? And how much longer will the EU funding last? Will there be follow-on funding from other sources such as the municipality?

Thanks again for sharing your experience.

Best,
Amanda
Last Edit: 28 Apr 2014 22:37 by muench.

Re: CuveWaters: Sanitation & Water Reuse in Namibia 06 May 2014 07:53 #8484

  • CuveWaters
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Dear Amanda,

sorry for the delay in replying, I did not get the email notification about your question.

The figures in the CuveWaters mid-term Report are still valid, however we are currently preparing an economic and financial analysis of the saniation project. First results should be available end of this year.

The Research project is not supported by EU but by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) until September 2015. The above mentioned analysis will also include possible further national as well as multilateral funding mechanisms.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have further questions.

Best regards
Alexia
Alexia Krug von Nidda
Project Coordinator CuveWaters
ISOE-Institute for Social-Ecological Research
Frankfurt
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.cuvewaters.net
www.isoe.de
Last Edit: 08 May 2014 09:14 by muench. Reason: added "German" Ministry

Re: CuveWaters: Sanitation & Water Reuse in Namibia 08 May 2014 09:44 #8524

  • muench
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Dear Alexia,

I am really happy that CuveWaters is now presented here on the forum (thank you!) and that I can ask you a question that I have been wondering about for a while with respect to this project:

Do you think that your target group (= urban Namibians without access to sanitation) would be able to afford such a system in the longer term? Meaning, the O&M costs once the funding from Germany has stopped, plus the capital cost of a new facility if they would want to replicate it at another town.

Unless the target population is not the urban poor but rather middle and upper class? But then would they want such a communal wash house?

I took a look at above mentioned report. On page 26 it states:

SANITATION FACILITIES, WASTEWATER TREATMENT
AND AGRICULTURAL IRRIGATION

A waterborne vacuum sewer system with poor-flush toilets was chosen for sewage conveyance
from the informal settlements to a wastewater treatment plant (schematic illustration
see following pages). This ‘closed system’ helps to overcome the threat of seasonal
floods in the area. After the wastewater has been transported from the sanitation facilities
to a vacuum station, first it is pretreated and then further purified with rotating biological
contactors. Organic compounds are oxidised and nutrients largely remain in the water for
fertigation purposes. Finally, solids and pathogens are removed by a microsieve and UV
radiation before the water is stored in a pond for reuse in irrigation. Rainwater is also collected
in this pond to gain additional irrigation water. The biogas produced from the sludge
and biomass of the agricultural irrigation site is used to generate electricity, and the
processed sludge itself is utilised as fertiliser.

Costs [exchange rate of N$ to Eur is a convenient 10:1]

N$ 100,000–200,000 for construction
of washhouses (cluster and community
unit)

N$ 800,000–900,000 for construction
of vacuum sewers and pumps

N$ 1,000,000–1,500,000 for construction
of wastewater treatment plant

Water, electricity, spare parts, laboratory
equipment is required for operating resources
wastewater treatment plant and
vacuum sewer system

ca. 7 full-time personnel (technicians,
skilled helpers, caretakers, security staff)

N$ 1,200,000–1,400,000 for construction
of an agricultural irrigation site
(ca. 2 ha) including storage pond, drip
irrigation and drainage system, greenhouses,
fence

Since the project’s implementation is still ongoing, numbers for costs are preliminary and only represent an estimation. Costs for other sites with no pilot character and a higher number of future users are expected to be much
cheaper (with regard to per capita costs). Expenses may also vary depending on local conditions. Therefore, only
ranges are given for construction costs. N$ = Namibian Dollar (N$ 10 ≈ € 1)


If I add up the costs for the wash houses, vacuum sewers and pumps as well as the WWTP (and don't include the cost for the irrigation system), I get a per capita figure of:

127 - 173 Eur per person

(your design is based on 1500 people the report states)

This is pretty much the range I would expect for a conventional wastewater treatment system anywhere in the world, like in Germany, but I would not call this particularly low cost. Unless, as I said, you have a different target group in mind than I do.

I understand that for future projects (no pilot character and more people served) you expect a lower per capita value. Have you already estimated at what per capita value it will become economically feasible for the local government to implement this without support from Germany in future years? (capital cost and O&M cost)

And where do you think the biggest cost savings (capital as well as O&M costs) could be made in the system in future? Are there any redundant/advanced process steps that could be omitted to save costs?

(7 staff members for serving 1500 people also seems pretty high?)

Thanks.

Kind regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Frankfurt, Germany
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Website: www.ostella.de
Member of SuSanA (www.susana.org)

Re: CuveWaters: Sanitation & Water Reuse in Namibia 27 Jun 2014 09:02 #9112

  • CuveWaters
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Dear Elisabeth,

Thank you for your questions.
Concerning your question on direct costs: as stated in our brochure, the figures that you are referring to are preliminary and only represent an estimation. We are currently in a compre-hensive cost-benefit analysis and will share the results when they are ready.

In general we follow a systematic approach. Currently scientific methods are being used to find out what the optimal combination of sanitation and water reuse in formal and informal settlements can look like.
•One element here is the productivity of the reuse water (hygienically safe and with nutrients N+P) which is used for crop production (irrigation site). The revenues of the production should reduce fees and create jobs at the same time.
•The sanitation and reuse project has 3-4 target groups (end user)
o Shack Dwellers (Shack Dweller Federation initiative)
o Two current informal settlements with a.) dwellers of cluster units as shown in the film (very heterogeneous building structure) and b.) dwellers of a maximum two year old tin shack settlement, which has also established to an expected development site (communal washhouse).
o Temporary visitors (open market etc.) of the washhouses.
•We see the implemented infrastructure as a modular and variable service, which allows improvements in the dynamic urbanization process. This way the informal settlements are set up to become formal houses – already now there are regulations on how many buildings can be registered per plot and even other gradual services (electricity, waste etc.) are being established partially. Even if there are big changes above-ground, the underground infrastructure remains (adaptivity, changing environmental conditions).
•From principle cost-benefit considerations the washhouse seems to be a cost-effective and affordable version for temporary visitors and dwellers of informal settlements, compared to the cluster solution. The demand we could observe at the washhouse currently confirms the affordability.
•Otherwise it basically seems inconvenient to divide upcoming fees by spatially segregated target groups. It is much more common, as it is in Europe, to aim at tariff uniformity in an area and to tariff single facilities like toilets, showers etc. in freshwater-use-units. This would have the effect, that those that are better equipped in sanitary terms can help support those that are not provided with (subsidise).

Best regards,
Alexia
Alexia Krug von Nidda
Project Coordinator CuveWaters
ISOE-Institute for Social-Ecological Research
Frankfurt
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.cuvewaters.net
www.isoe.de
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