Interdisciplinary Summer School 2017

Stream 5: New and Emerging water treatment technologies

Leader: Prof Bhekie Mamba
Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability Research Unit, Unisa)

It has often been articulated that the next world war would be fought over water resources. The question in people’s minds is whether this war has already started or it is about to commence. More importantly, are we seriously armed to face up to the challenges and consequences of such a war? The world is generally water stressed and the depletion of this important resource is threatening to paralyze a number of industrial operations that depend on water. The challenge the SADC region faces is Water Quality Management especially at the less conspicuous drinking water treatment plants (i.e. the relatively smaller plants that service relatively smaller communities). Well known pollutants which can compromise water quality if the water treatment processes are not up to standard include pathogens, agriculture chemicals, persistent organic pollutants, saline water and heavy metals.  Emerging issues that continuously call for our attention include acid mine drainage, cyanobacterial toxins (from blue-green algae), endocrine disrupting compounds and disinfection by-products as a result of the use of chlorine for disinfecting the water. Deteriorating water quality leads to escalation in treatment costs of potable and industrial process water, and decreased agricultural yields due to increased salinity of irrigation water. This stream will discuss the current state of affairs and more importantly the discussion will expose the opportunities for research at present and in the immediate future. Advances in technologies for water treatment and how integrated water resources management can be used to mitigate the effects of water scarcity and drought as well as issues of sustainable water resources management in the SADC region would be discussed. The stream concludes by briefly pronouncing how the research at the University of South Africa (and that of the Universities from which the invited speakers come from) has been responding to these challenges and how we will continue to address these so-called water crises in the near future.

Invited Researchers


Master’s degree in natural sciences, environmental science, environmental engineering, chemical engineering and civil engineering specializing in water treatment or working towards completing the master’s degree at the end of 2017.

Last modified: Fri Aug 25 07:38:53 SAST 2017