A question asked by many is, why do we use clean drinking water for toilets and human waste cleaning processes? This is especially relevant given the water crisis the Western Cape has faced over the last few years. Thankfully, the City of Cape Town has finally stepped up to change this situation and has launched the world’s first Faecal Sludge Management Facility that uses only recycled water.

On June 19, the City officially opened the new state-of-the-art system at the Borcherds Quarry Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“The first of its kind in the world, this City-initiated innovation is a unique and fully automated system for cleaning, washing and disinfecting toilet containers; five times faster than the previous manual method. Additionally, it provides an improved working environment for staff while upskilling them for the operation of the equipment. Staff will be upskilled and trained by the contractor,” says the City’s mayoral committee member for water and waste, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.

The need to build a new facility to more efficiently and safely dispose of human waste while cleaning containers seamlessly was identified by the City, possibly prompted by the overflow of concerns regarding waters in Cape Town being contaminated by wastewater as well as concerns regarding Waterwise systems following the drought.

“The City, in conjunction with its service providers and contractors, designed and built the specialised facility that has been in operation since earlier this year,” said Limberg.

A significant benefit of the new system is its water-wise design that recycles greywater, rather than using drinking-quality water as the old manual system did.

Other significant benefits of the new system include an overall reduction in the quantity of chemicals used in the cleaning process and a reduction in odours, which usually negatively impact surrounding areas. The new system also minimises spillage of chemical and faecal matter.

“Efficient service delivery is what Cape Town is known for. While we understand the challenge of meeting the desired levels of service delivery, we always do our utmost to serve all residents. The City continues to do its utmost to enhance service delivery out of respect for its residents and ratepayers. While this is a positive achievement, we want to work harder to make sure every single resident experiences this reality. This is a challenge we must strive to meet, particularly in our informal settlements,” said the City’s Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato.

The design of the new facility additionally offers a safer working environment for its 60 employees along with the potential for more jobs in the future.

Overall, the new facility provides a far higher standard of sanitation services and can better meet demand, especially in informal settlements.

Picture: Unsplash

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