Funded by eThekwini Water and Sanitation

Research collaboration on water and sanitation delivery


June 2006 to December 2018

Partner organisations: EAWAG, BORDA, HERING, DES, WRC, UMGENI Water.

Project description

Since 2003, the Pollution Research Group has provided eThekwini Water and Sanitation Division with scientific support in the Division’s efforts to develop and implement innovative water and sanitation services to the under-served, along with their mission of maintaining cost-competitive waste treatment service to industry and ensuring the health and environmental status of the rivers and beaches. Over the years, EWS and the PRG have established Memoranda of Agreements (MOA) to formalize their collaboration. While internationally there has been a sustained research effort over a period of at least 90 years on conventional wastewater treatment, the PRG and EWS are virtually unique in their focus on dry on-site sanitation and small-scale anaerobic processes focusing on providing nutrient-rich irrigation water for poor communities. The combination of large-scale rollout and scientifically valid investigations has attracted international interest and collaboration. Visiting scientists use the PRG laboratories to clean-up samples so that they can be safely taken overseas for specialised investigation and analysis. 

In the past 10 years, the municipality has built and renovated different testing facilities used by the PRG and other groups for research purposes. EWS has facilitated the expansion of the Newlands-Mashu site and the building of the DEWATS plant. The Newlands-Mashu fieldsite is used to evaluate crops growing on urine diversion solids, ventilated improved pit latrine solids and grey water. In addition, Newlands-Mashu houses a laboratory in which data from the VUNA reactors and the operations of the DEWATS plant are analysed. 

 In addition to Newlands-Mashu, EWS has co-developed the LaDePa machine for drying and pelletizing faeces. The LaDePa machine is located in a treatment works in Tongaat, which is also the site for the evaluation of sludge. EWS is refurbishing the anaerobic digesters at the Amanzimtoti Wastewater Treatment Works in order to research the treatment of high-strength or toxic liquid effluents. 

Through the MoA s, EWS and the PRG have collaborated on a number of international collaborative research projects and Water Research Commission research projects. These projects include: VUNA, Mechanical Properties of Faecal Sludge, Reinvent the Toilet, Co-digestion of sewage sludge and industrial concentrates; Characterisation of on-site sanitation material and products; Decentralised wastewater treatment systems (DEWATS), amoung others. Support is also provided for the monitoring of community ablution blocks, assessing customer satisfaction, modelling of wastewater treatment works and the development of a Shit-Flow Diagram (SFD) for Durban.

Further information on research related to EWS can be found under the EWS section on the navigation bar as well as under the Newlands Mashu Field Site.

Relevant Publications and Reports

Journal Publications

  • Mulholland, MM, Latifi, M, Purdon, A, Buckley, CA, and Brouckaert, CJ. (2015). Multi-objective optimisation of the operation of a water distribution network. Journal of Water Supply: Research and Technology—AQUA Vol 64(3), pp 235 – 249. doi: 10.2166/aqua.2014.078
  • Mulholland, M, Purdon, A, Latifi, MA, Brouckaert, CJ and Buckley, CA (2014). Leak identification in a water distribution network using sparse flow measurements. Computers & Chemical Engineering 66 252–258
  • Roma, E, Philp, K, Buckley, CA, Xulu, S and Scott, D (2013) User perceptions of urine diversion dehydration toilets: Experiences from a cross-sectional study in eThekwini Municipality. Water SA Vol. 39 No. 2.
  • Crous, P, Haarhoff, J, and Buckley, CA (2013) Water demand characteristics of shared water and sanitation facilities: Experiences from community ablution blocks in eThekwini Municipality, South Africa. Water SA Vol. 39 No 3.
  • Bond, T. Roma, E, Foxon, KM, Templeton, MR and Buckley, CA (2013). Ancient water and sanitation systems – applicability for the contemporary urban developing world. Water Science & Technology Vol 67 No 5 pp 935 – 941. doi: 10.2166/wst.2013.628
  • Roma, E Benoit, N, Buckley C and Bell, S (2013). Using the Receptivity model to uncover ‘urine blindness’: perceptions on the re-use of urine. Waste Management & Research Vol 31 No 6 pp 648–654. DOI: 10.1177/0734242X13482160


WISA Conference, 25th to 29th May 2014:

WISA Conference, Durban, 15th – 17th May 2016:


  • Septien S and Buckley C.  Secondary treatment for organic resources: Experiences in Durban. Presented at Decentralised Sustainable Sanitation Experiences, Bolivia, 4th – 5th November 2015
  • Septien S and Buckley C.  Experience of Sustainable Sanitation in Durban. Presented at the Sustainable Sanitation Workshop, Mexico, 7th January 2016
  • Arumugam, P., Buckley, CA, Gill, L, Rodda, N and Trois C. Performance assessment of a full-scale vertical flow constructed wetland in a decentralized wastewater treatment system for instrumentation and modification. Presented at the International Conference on Natural and Constructed Wetlands, Galway, Ireland, 21st – 22nd June 2016
  • Papers accepted as poster presentations for the IWA World Water Congress in Australia (9th to 14th October 2016) but which were not presented:

Conference Papers and Presentations

Young Water Professionals, Pretoria, 16 to 18th November 2016

  • S. Septien, A. Singh, S.W. Mirara, L. Teba, K. Velkushanova, C. Buckley. Study of LaDePa process for the treatment of feacal sludge from VIP latrines.
  • Srivastava S, Buckley C and Trois C.  An analysis of scum of the pump stations in Durban.
  • Commissioning strategy for the anaerobic sludge digesters at kwaMashu Wastewater Treatment Works.
  • Making do with what you have: a practical guide to reconciling existing plant data for wastewater model calibration
  • W. Musazura, A.O. Odindo and I.B. Bame. Nutrient uptake and yield of swiss chard irrigated with DEWATS effluent in three contrasting soils.

WISA Conference, Durban, 15th – 17th May 2016:

Reports and Other