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Everyone Benefits at Bundu WTW

While a constitutional right for all our citizens, access to clean, safe water is a significant challenge for local communities in the remote rural areas of South Africa, requiring wide collaboration and homegrown solutions to ensure all stakeholders benefit for decades to come, as was recently again proven at the Bundu WTW in Mpumalanga.   

To provide a reliable and secure supply of water to communities in remote areas of Mpumalanga, including Boekenhouthoek, Mathysenloop, Machipe and Bundu, Thembisile Hani Local Municipality launched, in 2016, the largest service-delivery infrastructure project it had ever undertaken: its first Water Treatment Works (WTW). Implemented in phases, the water-augmentation scheme – including a 10ML command reservoir in Bundu – is funded by the Municipal Infrastructure Grant and is already supplying over half of the total demand, thanks to a homegrown filtration solution custom-designed for African conditions.

This rural area in Mpumalanga presented engineers with the same long list of challenges that hamper access to clean, safe water across other remote stretches of South Africa’s rural areas: poor accessibility, extreme weather, low funding, little or no electricity, and a lack of skills.

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1. Collaboration is vital 

The success of the Bundu WTW project has been attributed to the collaboration between all the stakeholders: engineering teams, contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers, the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality and members of the local communities.

This collaboration has resulted in optimal solutions to the many challenges faced, resulting in benefits for all the stakeholders.

A pertinent example is the world-class filtration solution installed at Bundu. Initially, the treatment works at Bundu was designed to consist of only concrete process units, including traditional concrete water filters. However, local challenges hampered the construction of concrete filters – including the technical expertise and the costs involved – both initially and ongoing. These concrete filters – typically structures measuring 20m x 20m with backwash systems – are complex, expensive and time-consuming to build, and then require ongoing human management, continuous power supply as well as high operational and maintenance costs.

This prompted the design engineering company, Ceenex Consulting, to contact Superior Filtration – a South African-based global industrial filtration specialist that supplies filtration solutions in 32 countries.

2. Unlocking a range of benefits for all 

This specialist consultation – freely available to all engineers – resulted in the scope of work changing from concrete filters to mechanical Autonomous* Gravity Sand Filters (AGF), unlocking a range of benefits for the engineers, the municipality and the local community.

The Superior Filtration AGF was the first process unit to be installed on site at Bundu WTW and was installed in just two days! As a result, the AGF was used through direct filtration a full year before other process units, such as sedimentation tanks, were constructed. This meant the municipality was able to supply the community with high quality water suitable for drinking much earlier than anticipated and long before the completion of the plant construction.

These AGF filters also offer a vast array of other benefits that make them ideally suited to African conditions.

Ideal fit for the African rural context

  • Completely autonomous* function – no backwash pumps or scourers, no external controls, no electronic control systems
  • *Automatous backwash
  • Human intervention limited to periodic maintenance inspections
  • Extremely low maintenance levels
  • No electrical supply required for filter operation
  • No moving parts
  • Zero energy consumption
  • Zero operational costs
  • Virtually no downtime
  • Very high reliability and efficiency
  • Diagnostic service via telephone or WhatsApp

The Bundu WTW has been operating smoothly and entirely autonomously* for five years already, without any electricity, human intervention, maintenance or downtime. In fact, based on the positive audit report for Bundu WTW following a recent inspection by the Department of Water and Sanitation.

“The success of this filtration system at Bundu demonstrates how the right filters can make all the difference in water-starved rural communities,” says Albert Bam of Superior Filtration. “The keys to success lie in the accurate diagnosis of the specific filtration needs, the correct specification of filters by specialists, and robust, autonomous* equipment that meet the requirements of the unique African rural environment and the rural municipalities constrained by low budgets and limited resources”.

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3. Fast, easy access to filtration expertise 

“Because we have been offering these keys to success for decades around the world, we are enthusiastic and confident about the part we can play in addressing the water crisis in South Africa,” added Bam.

“It is for this reason that we offer our unique diagnostic service – free of charge and with no obligation – via telephone or WhatsApp. We invite design engineers, engineers, consultants, contractors and project managers designing water systems and end users of filtration systems, such as municipalities, to contact our team. With more than 30 years’ experience, we are well-positioned to provide crucial advice and filtration solutions that work for decades, requiring minimal management and maintenance, ultimately reducing risk, downtime and costs – benefitting every stakeholder involved.”

*Autonomous – undertaken or carried on without outside intervention. Capable of existing independently,

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