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Reuse of treated wastewater an effective solution for dealing with water stress, says Keetmanshoop Municipality

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Wastewater is seeping into the ground in the southern Namibian town of Keetmanshoop, contaminating the water table. To improve the situation in this 20,000-person town, an irrigation project based on the reuse of treated wastewater will be implemented.

In the municipality of Keetmanshoop, located in southern Namibia, the reuse of treated wastewater is an effective solution for dealing with water stress. Agriculture is the primary source of income. In this context, an irrigation project will be implemented by recovering approximately 4,946 cubic meters of wastewater per day that enters the sewage ponds.

“About 300 hectares of land are available around the 12 sewage ponds used in Keetmanshoop. The municipality was looking at feed production as the best option, especially in a country where rainfall patterns have become unpredictable,” says Jegg Christian, strategic director for economic development at the municipality of Keetmanshoop, a town 498 km from the capital Windhoek.

Reusing treated wastewater will allow local farmers to avoid some of the costs of pumping groundwater. However, local authorities say that relining the ponds will be necessary and will cost about N$2 million (US$135,000) to build a pumping station.

According to the Keetmanshoop municipality, the recovery and commercial reuse of treated wastewater will be useful for agricultural purposes and for watering local parks, stadiums, gardens and public spaces. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), recycling urban wastewater for food agriculture mitigates water shortages and reduces water pollution. “Water with care can provide a “triple dividend” for urban users, farmers and the environment. It can also mitigate competition for water between cities and agriculture in regions suffering from shortages and help address the problem of urban effluents and related pollution,” says the former deputy director of FAO’s Land and Water Division, Pasquale Steduto.