The residents of Beaufort West have no choice but to rely on alternative ways of finding water now that the Gamka Dam, which is the town’s main supplier, has run dry. On Monday, the Central Karoo town was upgraded to Day Zero status, meaning that there is no potable water left.
Boreholes and recycled sewage water are now the only source of water residents have access to.
But how safe is recycled sewage water for human use and consumption?
Pierre Marais of Water and Wastewater Engineering, said that effluent supplied by the municipality goes through various treatment processes before it is safe for usage.
“It goes through quite a few steps, including water filtration, sedimentation, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, advanced oxidation, and chlorination, before it is sent to back to the municipal reservoir,” he explained.
This system is not new to the area either. The recycling of sewage water, known as water reclamation, has been practiced in Beaufort West since 2011.
According to Marais, the quality coming out of the reclamation plant is 100% suitable for human consumption.
In an effort to find a more constant supply of water, the Gift of the Givers has allocated R6-million of funding to a project that will drill for the precious resource. In the meantime, they have also taken trucks of food and bottled water to the drought-stricken town.