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November  - 2009

Each day we find the same topics making news, and ask how come old stuff is always newsworthy.  James Bond, in QUANTUM OF SOLACE, was not risking his life and country to chase after secret documents, galactic nuclear weapons, or voluptuous long legged Russian spies (ok - exclude that). The story was all about water - clean water. 

Public meetings, conferences, workshops and discussions have been designed to get enough concerned people together to change unlawful laws and filthy habits, related to water. And after every meeting we see little change.  Lot-sa talk (and carbon emissions), but not much else. 

We started our last newsletter with comment on global warming, and that each and every 6 billion of us creates body heat. Jim wrote to us, saying that each of us also creates carbon dioxide (a green house gas) like no other single earthly item. He went on to say that the South African government now wanted to tax it's citizens (motorists?) for "carbon emissions".

Is this a "breathing" tax? Ed 

 Report Back


We again attempted to make contact with Sandra Redlinghuys, Engen's enviro manager, but she has not responded.  In fact, no-one from the petro giant is offering any comment, for obvious reasons.  Our next step is to tackle Wimpy, who contribute to the pollution at Engen's 1Stop. 

Does the hamburger outlet want to become associated with a sewer outlet? A hum - bugger, perhaps? 


Allan Batchelor,  has again not responded, as promised, to the Biobox / Clear Edge similarity issues we raised in our July & August/September edition of the Wastewater Watch, and we suggest we won't hear from him. Allan has not been as transparent as we would have hoped.  You see, his independent consultancy company 'Wetland Consulting Services', is linked to Biobox as Allan owns a large portion of both companies.

As transparent as Durban's seawater. Ed

  Lilliput / SABS - update

Our newsletter reached the legal department of the SABS, and we suggest the Lilliput - SABS issue has been resolved. 

On 16 October 2009, SABS wrote to Tres Grandes Velas Hotel as follows:

Your ref : Irr Ref: Lilliput Product

Our ref : Ms. Ambition Manabile

Fax No. : 012 428 - 6291

Telephone 012 428 - 6828

Date : 16 October 2009



P O BOX 72891



Dear Sir/ Madam

1. The above matter refers.

2. The letter dated 14 October 2009, addressed to Lililput we wish to inform you that kindly ignore the content thereof. (Huh?)

3. We have recently come across your website under your complex topic, where you refer to the SABS approval while you are not a registered SABS valid Mark holder.

4. We wish to record that your action is in violation of our intellectual Property and is misleading to the public. In this regard we reserve the right to claim damages against yourselves.

5. We therefore advise your company to refrain from using the SABS name and to urgently contact the SABS Legal Department on receipt of this letter. Failure to do so will leave the SABS with no alternative but to take legal action without any further notice to yourself.

6. Further take note that the SABS shall not be held liable for any such commodity manufactured and for which your company creates the false impression that it has been SABS certified.

7. We further demand the following fourteen (14) days: (Huh?)

a) Immediately remove all reference from all advertising material making reference to the SABS Name;

b) To immediately cease using the SABS Name;

c) A letter from your company indemnifying the SABS from any product resulting in any harm, injury or death of a person using the product;

d) A full account of the total revenue earned by you over the period of in which the infringement has occurred in order for us to quantify damages, to determine a reasonable royalty for your unauthorised use of the SABS Name;

e) To publish a public apology (press release) and retraction in all the areas you have supplied the products, such public apology to be sent to our offices for approval before releasing it.

8. Hope you find this in order.

Yours Faithfully





This threat has opened a whole new phase. 

Nev(er) Nixon, Lilliput MD wrote to Tres Grandes,

"It has been brought to our attention that your website for Tres Grandes Velas Hotel states that the Lilliput Sewage treatment plant is SABS approved.  Kindly note that this is not correct. There are presently no sewage treatment plants which are SABS approved as there are no SABS standard for sewage treatment plants."

The owners of the Tres Grandes Velas Hotel did not imagine this product had SABS approval, and we strongly suggest is was strongly suggested. This is not the first time the Lilliput product has been advertised as SABS approved.  The Lilliput team have been so convincing that the offensive website still claims SABS approval for Lilliput systems, as of 1st December 2009. 

Let this be a lesson to all those that offer false information and/or promises to solicit business.

What else is promised that is simply not true? Ed

 eThekwini and Sewage

We have long suggested that Durban's watercare department is in serious trouble.  Neil McLeod, Durban's water boss, is quick to paint a rosy picture, and says that all is well here. Neil proudly claimed to have achieved 11 "Green Drop" awards, a major achievement in itself, as the awards have not been awarded yet.  And then, one asks, what will these awards be worth?

Denzil Bazley, a Durban metro (independent) consulting engineer for 11 years, said that there are no longer any full time (water?) engineers employed by the metro.  He also said that the once functional and effective department is reduced to a third world standard.  (It should also be noted that eThekwini does not have any electrical engineers permanently employed either, the last opted for 'early retirement' in April, this year.)

The water quality standards, particularly at the beaches, are considered safe by the metro water department, and that the council's tests show good results.  This information is available on the 6 million rand Durban Metro website. Yet the Blue Flag authority is not allowed to verify these results.

As transparent as the seawater. Ed

(see Blue Flags - below)

 Blue Flags for Durban

Our minister of tourism, Martinus van Sckalwyk, has suggested the controversial ANC led eThekwini council apply for Blue Flag status on all it's beaches, as it is good for tourism.  Mad Mike (M&M) Sutcliffe, the metro manager, has scoffed at the idea. M&M says that the beaches already achieve water quality higher than the Blue Flag requirement, and asks "what's the issue?". All water tests are done by Mike's in-house  laboratory.

He even asked Shawn Thomson, SA champion surfer about Blue Flag beaches, and the famous surfer did not know what a "blue flag" was.

Sutcliffe and the Blue Flag organization have never agreed on much. Blue Flag needs to independently verify water test results, which Sutcliffe feels is unnecessary, as he should be considered trustworthy. Trust is earned, and so are Blue Flags. And there is very little Mike and his merry men should be trusted with.

As transparent as Durban's seawater. Ed.

Water in Africa

Botswana, a very dry country of which 70% is dictated to by the Kalahari Desert, is a thriving and stable country. The few mineral resources it has, contributes 40% to the country's revenue. The balance is made up from tourism, mainly.  The currency, the Pula,  is rated at about 14% higher than Africa's power house, South Africa

The people of Botswana know the value of water, as it is so scarce. New laws are being enforced to ensure the water quality is maintained in a healthy state. We will suggest that, while corruption exists everywhere, we will also suggest this has not been allowed to affect the water quality standards in a very parched country. Water is simply too valuable to waste. 

When SA is just as dry, the people would need to look at their leader for showering tips. Ed 

  Germ Killers

Oxymorons (or simply morons)

The list of germ killers below that claim to be safe for septic tanks.



Active ingredient




Sodium Hypochlorite

Reckett Benckiser


Harpic toilet cleaner

Benzalkonium Chloride

Reckett Benckiser


Jeyes Bleach

Sodium Hydroxide

Adcock Ingram



Sodium Hypochlorite







 Water - Time Capsules

This photo was taken of the Chobe river, in Botswana. The frequent cry of the fish eagle is proof of a healthy ecosystem.

  Waste Without Water

Gary sent us a note that claims that 61% of all water used in Cape Town is used to flush and carry sewage. We also see that waterless toilets have now become quite popular.

No-one has suggested how one washes their hands after the toilet job, without water.

Waterless water, perhaps. Ed  


Steve - Wastewater Watch

August & September - 2009

There are not many of us out there that have not heard of global warming.  Green house gasses, Ozone depletion, ice caps melting, & de-forestation are all part of our lives.  2000 years ago there were an estimated 200 million people on this planet, and the world was in balance.  We now have nearly 7 BILLION people.  The fact that each one of us contributes to the imbalance, using cars, coal fired / nuclear powered generators, all adds up.  But what about people themselves.  On average, every  body  contributes 5 degrees of heat to the ambient temperature around us, and we continue doing this non-stop - 24 hours a day - for 70 years.

This is a generator of gi-mammoth proportions. 

 Report Back


We did get a response back from the Biobox team, headed up by Allan Batchelor.  He did say that he denies promoting Biobox through his own company, Wetland Consulting Services, but if he did, it was in the same context as any other product or technology.  On the subject of the borrowed Dung beetle logo from another supplier, Allan said that the Biobox Dung Beetle logo has since been discontinued.  

Allan did promise to address all the other Clear Edge / Biobox issues later, and we await this response. 

Allan is co owner of Biobox Systems cc

(See new products)

Engen 1Stop (N3 South Bound) Again

Revisiting these two Engen sites again in July, we found the situation deteriorating alarmingly.  The water in both dams that receive the "treated" effluent are green.  Algae has now completely covered the water surface. 

In an attempt to replace the depleted oxygen content in the water, the management opted to install a small submersible pump, (see below) and to squirt water back into the dam. 

This aeration attempt indicates several things. 

  •  Engen management know there is a problem but do not know what it is.
  • Engen consultants know little or nothing about water treatment.
It should be noted that at the far side of this dam is a extraction point for drinking water for the 1Stop.
The Department of Water Affairs should bestow a "Green Drop " award on Engen / Clear Edge for their highly successful efforts to convert healthy ecosystems into a watery wasteland, and very green.

 Then,  Engen's Clear Edge system on the other side of the N3.


This photo shows raw sewage reaching the dam - post the treatment plant.

Then, the treatment plant installed at the Engen New Castle 1Stop was overflowing sewage from one of the tanks, and this was reaching the water course. 



Please note. All faults were recorded within a 4-day period.

Engen are not taking us seriously enough. We then calculated, that between 8th July and 10th August 2009, we supported Engen by buying R4948.07  worth of fuel.  

This needs to change!

We have not heard from Engen's Enviro manager, Sandra Redelinghuys, but we will make contact with her - in due course. ED


We received feedback that a developer was installing a SABS approved Lilliput system in Mozambique.  Follow the link below

We contacted SABS and the developer, Andro Gibhard of Complexo Investments, telling him there are no SABS approved systems and he should retract this from his website. He said that he only repeats what was offered to him.  Andro wrote - verbatum;

"You have put our development in a bad light with the people that you forwarded this mail to and I urge these people to disregard your childish behavior any claims made against my development."

and added;

"And please take it very seriously that we will pursue legal action against you should any other allegations arise from your actions".

Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 1:56 PM
Subject: RE: Lilliput claims SABS approval

We thanked Andro for his response, saying when we are threatened with legal action, this means we are taken seriously. However, the website still claims SABS approved Lilliput systems, and, surprisingly,  SABS have made no effort to contact with us. 

(see tail piece)  

 New Products - Biorock

We received the news that a German designed system for treating domestic sewage had reached sunny South Africa. This system called Biorock, is imported and marketed under the Biobox banner.

To set the record straight, we have not seen this system and have no data on it's performance.  We will only repeat what Biobox say, and, of course, offer our response.

Features of the Biorock include:

1.       No Electricity Required

The BIOROCK doesn’t need any electricity at all for the process. It relies on gravity and natural air flow to work. This saves several hundred Rands/year even on small single house sewage plants. 

2.       Long Desludge Interval

The BIOROCK primary tank (with pre-filter) requires a desludge about every 3 to 4 years. As a result it will save a huge amount of money on the running cost.

3.       No Moving Parts

No machinery throughout the entire sewage treatment system.

4.       Can accept Sanitary Items

The plant can accept tampons, panty liners, wet-wipes, cotton buds, etc. due to the fact that the system includes a settlement tank (septic tank) which acts as a trash tank, keeping these out of the sewage plant. The system uses an effluent filter which means that a single chamber tank is acceptable.

5.       Minimum Visual Impact

Small lid, flush with the ground. No compressor, so no kiosk.

6.       Solar Power Option

Where a pumped outlet is required, the Biorock can use SOLAR POWER not mains electricity!

7.       Low Carbon Footprint

Due to fact that no electricity is required for the process, the CO2 emissions relating to the production of the electricity are not present. Likewise the infrequent desludge period reduces the CO2 emissions caused by the tankers that empty all Sewage Treatment Plants.

8.       Superb Effluent Quality

This system will produce effluent to a 10:10:10 (BOD, SS, NH4) effluent standard. The general minimum standard is a 20:30:20 standard; this is what 90% of package units will achieve. The effluent from the BIOROCK is twice as clean as most of the requirements.

9.       Completely Silent

Completely silent operations as there are no electric pumps, motors or compressors. 

10.   Lowest Running Costs

This is the cheapest system in the World to run - NO electricity, minimum annual maintenance.

11.   No Wet Concrete Required

The BIOROCK units do not require any wet concrete for the installation depending on ground conditions. This will save a lot of money on the installation.

12.   24 Hour Start Up Period

For most Sewage Treatment Units wastewater must be flowing through them for about 6 – 12 weeks before the bacteria establish themselves and the plant is working properly. The BIOROCK natural fibre material is pre-seeded with these bacteria and has a start up period of only 24 hours. This has enormous benefits for systems that will experience periodic or seasonal use as nearly all conventional systems will fail to meet their discharge consent standards for several weeks or months when occupation resumes. The BIOROCK will be fully functioning in 24 hours and remain functioning, even after 7 months without use.

13.   EN 12566-3:2005 certified

This is a European Community approval for small wastewater treatment systems for up to 50 PE for Packaged and/or site assembled domestic wastewater treatment plants. Excellent purification results are available.

14.   prEN 12566-7:2006 tested

This is a European Community approval for small wastewater treatment systems for up to 50 PE for Prefabricated Tertiary treatment units. Excellent purification results are available. Not many plants have this.

15.   Minimum Annual Maintenance

The maintenance on a BIOROCK is lower than any other plant. This saves the owner money and reduces carbon emissions.

16.   Sustainability

Without question it is the most sustainable system available.


17.   Septic Tank Conversion Unit

The BIOROCK can be used as a Septic Tank Conversion Unit.

Our Comments.

The Biorock appears to be a well made system, designed by the Germans.  The fact that it does not require any electricity and that it is buried is sure to be a good sales feature. The authorities / buyers could very well endorse / promote this system for widespread use.

But, does it conform to SA requirements?

Biobox claim it can treat to these standards 

  • 10mg/l COD  (SA limits are 75mg/l) - Pass
  • 10mg/l Suspended solids (SA 75mg/l) -Pass
  • 10mg/l Ammonia : 10mg/l (SA 6mg/l)- Fail
Then we have the disinfection part that is not even mentioned by Biobox.  Many European community countries are not concerned with bacteria, and many systems coming from Europe simply do not disinfect. Based on this alone, this plant is non-compliant with South Africa's water laws.
Furthermore, it is designed and installed with a single chamber septic tank, which is also non-compliant with the building regulations.
And then it comes with EC certification, which allows discharge of  20 (COD):30(SS):20 (Ammonia) into any European stream. 
Note, 10mg/l Amm is considered "fishkill".
Our EU contact in Finland commented on the need for systems to remove Phosphates as the prime mission (Ammonia and eColi removal is an after-thought). 
He commented, "The authorities, concerned with food security, offer the population very cheap fertilizer, which contains phosphates. Phosphates are now reaching the many hundreds of lakes in the area, causing rapid water-plant growth.
On a final note, South Africa are pioneers in the field of water treatment technology, and for us to import non-compliant equipment, in our opinion, should be considered insulting. But, considering who the importers are, maybe it's complimentary. Ed
ps When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

  Germ Killer

Oxymorons (or simply morons)

The list of germ killers below that claim to be safe for septic tanks.



Active ingredient




Sodium Hypochlorite

Reckett Benckiser


Harpic toilet cleaner

Benzalkonium Chloride

Reckett Benckiser


Jeyes Bleach

Sodium Hydroxide

Adcock Ingram



Sodium Hypochlorite







 Water - Time Capsules

We received this from Michelle, which originally came from Kim.  It was a letter written in 2070 which told a story of what life is now like, some 60 years in the future. It is in Power Point presentation, and you can read it here

Time capsule indeed


July 2009

The year in already half full (or half empty if you are a pessimist) and we know that the next six months will fill up even quicker. 

And, for those environmental pessimists who believe the end is near -  Relax. We have good news.

See tail piece.

 Report Back

Septic (sceptic) Durban Metro

We have again made contact with Neil Macleod - Head of Water and Sanitation - Durban Metro in reference to a number of issues, including policy, septic tanks and the package plant industry.  We would have liked to include his response in this newsletter, but his insistence that it be included complete, without editing, would have made this newsletter a long episode. This is not the theme for the Wastewater Watch as all our reports are kept short, sweet, and to the point. We are prepared to include his response on our website, and will publish the email, complete, as soon as we can upload it on the website. 

However, Mr Macleod did claim that the Department of Water Affairs has not "outlawed" septic tanks (soakaways). 

In typical government fashion - deny everything, admit nothing and cover your ass. We recall ex-President Mbeki claiming that HIV did not cause AIDS, despite what the world said.  America recently spent millions removing failed "leach-fields"  (soakaways) because of pollution, yet we deny it has any adverse effect.

We will regret this!

Engen 1Stop (N3 South Bound)

At the end of June, the above Clear Edge plant was emitting a foul smelling effluent.  This plant is not working and is polluting our environment. We will now tackle Wimpy, as they contribute. 

We contacted Sandra Redelinghuys, who originally worked for Durban Metro as Pollution & Environment Manager- eThekwini Water and Sanitation.  Her qualifications include Pr Sci Nat;  B Sc Hons; Master of Law ( Environmental); MLP Dip; NatCert Air Pollution. 

We found that Sandra was probably the most respected of all those in authority. She headed the testing / endorsing of package plants within the Durban area, and therefore there was no one more qualified to judge a system than her. Sandra now works for Engen, and we find it unbelievable she was not consulted by Engen when the N3 replacements were selected.   

We wrote to her :

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 9:00 AM
Subject: Engen 1Stop

Dear Sandra,
I have not made contact with you since you left Durban Metro.  I have to admit that of all the Metro staff, you were one of only a handful who we felt had integrity. 
As you must be aware, we help write a newsletter, the Wastewater Watch, which highlights wastewater issues. One such issue is the two Engen 1Stops near the Tugela Plaza on the N3.  Two Clear Edge systems were installed there in about 2005, and were removed after several years, as they had hopelessly failed. Two new Clear Edge systems, upgraded to 3 times the size,  were installed recently (2008) and show the same results. I was there yesterday, and the final effluent is pretty foul.
As you came from a job in which you scrutinized, selected, and then judged systems, including Clear Edge, it would have been highly beneficial for Engen to have consulted with you.  There would have been no one more qualified to offer input than you, and yet the same mistake has been made.
I have just spoken to Samantha from Magna Carter in Cape Town (Engen PR) who said she would pass the message on to Engen.
It is just this situation cannot continue. If Engen are not going to do something, we will approach the likes of Wimpy, who contribute considerably to the pollution, and tackle them.
Steve - WwW

We have not received a response. Ed

 Flamingos & the Kamfers Dam Project

Despite the efforts of all conservationists, the general public and the environmental program 50/50, the Northgate estate, near Kimberly, will go ahead. 

The first phase will include over six hundred houses and a shopping mall. The successful manmade breeding ground for the Lesser Flamingos, which made a world first, will now be surrounded by manmade breeding ground for humans. This closeness will impact on the site and all that good work is at risk. 

Already, foul water is reaching the dam, and this is expected to deteriorate further.  The package plant, a Lilliput (as understood), will treat the domestic sewage from this phase, and will discharge the "treated stuff" to another pan, 20 kilometres away. The idea being that the flamingos would have an alternative breeding ground. 

If the Lilliput plant does not treat the sewage properly, and then the water is dosed with a hefty dollop of chlorine, which is then pumped into a pipe 20km long, the water reaching it's final destination would not be conducive to any life form.

There is good news - We know where the system will be, and we will monitor it's progress.

It is great being right, but, in this case, it would be really great being wrong. Ed

 Green Drop Awards

We re-opened the Green Drop issue last month, noting that of all the municipal wastewater treatment facilities in South Africa, only 30 managed the Green Drop certificate.  Now, we believe, there are, in fact, 32.

Department of Water and Environmental Affairs said, "Green was chosen as it is the colour universally used to portray a healthy environment. It thus implies that should a municipality achieve Green Drop status, the public can be assured that the authority is excellently and responsibly managing its wastewater services, and is doing so to the benefit of the environment and the people.

The department’s Mariette Swart said that the Blue Drop and the Green Drop status will restore trust in drinking water quality and wastewater management services."

Neil Macleod, Head of eThekweni Water and Wastewater proudly informed us that his department had managed 11 Green Drops of the 32 nationwide. This is a huge achievement considering that less than a year ago not one of the metro's sewage systems achieved compliancy with the Water Act - according to the Water Quality Management System (WQMS) - initiated by the Department of Water Affairs.

Another achievement is the fact that the report will only be released later this month (July) and "winners" have not been notified yet -

"The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs will be releasing the so-called ‘Green Drop’ report into the state of South Africa’s wastewater management and services next month." Engineering News 26th June 2009

We are all familiar with the Durban Blue Flag fiasco, which was replaced with Durban Metro's own rating, because the authority could not comply.  The Blue Flag status is awarded to beaches which comply with, among other factors, cleanliness of beaches, public facilities and water quality. No-one likes swimming in toilets, and Blue Flag International  disapproves of "toilet water" beaches. 

The new method of awarding compliant wastewater systems is  now suspect, and does little to "restore trust in drinking water quality and wastewater management services". Similar to the school leavers Matric certificate, we lower the standards until everyone passes. We will regret it! Ed     

 BioBox / Clear Edge Package Plants 

We wrote to Allan Batchelor, Wetland Consulting Services, who strongly promoted BioBox in his marketing campaign. The email was also forwarded to David Light, BioBox manager. 

Dear Allan,
As you are aware, we assist with a water related newsletter, the Wastewater Watch, and offer you the opportunity to comment on the following:
  • As a reputable professional environmentalist, you have been associated with the product Biobox for some time, since about 2003, and have endorsed the product through your own company, Wetland Consulting Services.  
  • You are familiar with some of the other commercial products, including Lilliput, Biolytics, Clear Edge and Scarab.  Having visited a Biobox system, we found little or no difference between the Clear Edge system and Biobox. Noting the high failure rate of Clear Edge systems, please advise on the difference between the two systems.  David Light, Biobox manager, has not offered us any relevant information, suggesting this is product-privilege, and claims, in marketing material, Biobox is a truly unique system.
  • Should Biobox be so unique, why did Clear Edge claim design ownership, and attempt to sue Biobox?  The claim, as understood, was amicably settled out of court.
  • Should the number of failures become substantial, as seen with Clear Edge, would Biobox still be in a position to honour their lifetime money back guarantee? And how long is a lifetime?
All comments should be short and to the point, but if you choose not to comment, this will be noted. Your response, if any, along with the above will be published in our next edition of the Wastewater Watch.
Steve - WwW  Sunday, June 07, 2009 11:07 PM

We have received no comment. However, so unique is Biobox, this picture shows a logo of a dung beetle, borrowed from another supplier - Scarab. Ed










 50/50 - R I P

After 25 years, the worlds longest running environmental program - Worldwide - ,  has been canned by the new Zuma government, claiming lack of funds.  The 50/50 team has kept us, the public, informed on all environmental issues for longer than any other program. Shady deals, government corruption, and dirty politics has the final say, and the weekly show closed the doors on transparency.

  Water for All

The new eThekweni Water pipeline from Umlaas Road to the western area of the Greater Durban area is progressing well. Rated the most ambitious water project yet undertaken in this part of the world, the R 800 million pipeline will deliver 400 million litres of water per day.

There can be little doubt.  The authority have heavily  splurged on water related projects, ensuring the population are well catered for.  Tax and ratepayers should feel a little more comfortable knowing that not all the money was spent on street renaming, defunct public bus service, and once off soccer stadiums.

We also need to look at the environmental impact of this project, which does not look not so green.  The 400 million litres per day will be removed from a relatively clean source, kept clean in the pipeline, so that it will reach several destinations in good condition.  The ultimate destination is the Inanda Dam catchment area, a point the water would have reached anyway, without the pipeline, and without the contaminated pollutants. The pipeline simply bypasses the badly polluted area.  And therefore, the removal of 400 million litres of clean water from a polluted area reduces, considerably, the dilution of pollution in the river. In such concentrations, the pollutants could now destroy the whole river ecosystem.  

And there is some more bad news. 400 million litres of clean water, given to a population that either does not know the value, or does not care, will transform a Blue drop into a Brown Drop (or long drop). And then, considering the track record of Durban's management, there will not be the allowance for treating this huge burden of additional sewage.

The country is in a panic to get delivery of services, for political reasons. The early ANC government put a tap in every village, and won votes. The fact that clean water was transformed into untreated sewage did not worry the authority, or the public. Some 10 years later, we are seeing a repeat. 

It should be noted that the Duzi canoe marathon uses some of this water in the famous race, but maybe, now, the paddlers will opt to run the race instead.

We need to save our water resources, instead of spending. When water no longer fills this pipeline, and the river is dead, it will be too late.  

  Germ Killers

Oxymorons (or simply morons)

The list of germ killers below that claim to be safe for septic tanks.



Active ingredient




Sodium Hypochlorite

Reckett Benckiser


Harpic toilet cleaner

Benzalkonium Chloride

Reckett Benckiser


Jeyes Bleach

Sodium Hydroxide

Adcock Ingram



Sodium Hypochlorite







Tiger Brands, one of the members of the price fixing cartel, produces several household products, including Rattex (rat and mice killer), Doom (insect killer) and the Jeyes product range (germ killer). 
It is therefore ironical that Tiger Brands slogan is;
"Adding Value to Life" 
 I wonder what goes into their chocolate. Ed

 Water - Time Capsules

  Tail Piece

This was sent in to us by Michelle, Gary and Peter.

Peter asked if white suited us.

Thanks, Pete. Also thinking of you. Ed


Steve - Wastewater Watch


  June 2009

Its official.  As reported in the latest edition of Water Sewage and Effluent, septic tanks (or rather soakaways ) are outlawed by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF).  WSE quoted "septic tanks posed a threat to the surrounding environment"  It'd been a long road, but we are nearly there.  We will tackle Durban Metro on this issue in due course. (also see tail piece).

 Report Back

Hibberdene Spar.

We have, again, good reason to include Hibberdene Spar in our newsletter.  The Lilliput system, costing nearly R600 000, and spending years polluting the environment, has been shut down!

We would like to thank Chase Properties, Spar, Wimpy and all those tenants in the centre for correcting a very painful and costly mistake. Although the Wastewater Watch did have some influence in the final decision, we believe the owners felt compassion for the environment and public health & safety when they came to this decision.

Thank you Spar 



PS  All may not be lost. Lilliput have a lifetime design guarantee on their systems.  Now may be the ideal opportunity to submit their claim.

We await response from Engen on their failed systems on the N3. The last we heard from Engen's PR, Samantha was 17th April, as below.

Hi Steve

I see there was quite a bit of discussion last year about Engen Tugela 1-Stop which was never responded to.

I am in the process to chatting to Engen about this and would like to send through a response to you.

Would you be open to this?



 Samantha Walt

Managing Director Cape Town

Magna Carta (Pty) Ltd

Tel :         2721 417 5763

Fax:         086 668 2577

The Blue / Green Drop accreditation process adopted by the Department of Water (and environmental affairs) has finally released results to the public.

Blue Drop is for drinking water standards, and

Green Drop is for Wastewater standards

While most water departments achieved Blue drop status, only 30 wastewater systems managed the Green drop standards.

 Package Plants 

We have been quite critical on some issues of sewage treatment. One package plant supplier complained that this negativity was bringing the industry into disrepute and, in some cases cast their products and services in bad light. Their reputations are at stake.

We feel that it is time to explain why we have taken this issue so seriously. 

We started this newsletter after the 2003 Durban Metro moratorium, because we wanted the public to know more. I recall Mark Ross from Lilliput requested from Durban Metro that information offered to the public should be restricted, as the public already knew too much, and most information was being manipulated to paint a gloomy picture.  Rather than keep the public ill-informed or even misinformed, we felt that the whole saga needed to be exposed, and those suppliers that were protected, and even supported, could no longer hide from the public.  We were very fortunate to have been included in the moratorium process, because it gave us some very privileged and intimate information.

If our subject had been lawnmowers, roofing tiles, or the new president, it would not have mattered if there was a dud on the market.  But, as we are in the water industry, the public really needs to know what is good and what is not. Water is our life and our environment.  

So why do we place so much attention on package plants? Why do we not leave it up to our town councils to do their job, and to make sure our sewage water is treated properly?

Wastewater is always going to be a grudge duty for our public services. It is a messy job that is problematic, very costly and has become an embarrassment. The skills required for municipal wastewater treatment are either underestimated, or ignored, resulting in pollution never seen before.  The infrastructure, generally, is unmaintained (sometimes unmanned), obsolete and overloaded, where much needed funds have been spent on slick train-sets and 1st world football pitches.  It is time for the authorities to off load their responsibility for wastewater treatment, officially.

The only alternative is package plants.  Some will service communities, suburbs, neibourhoods, blocks of flats, housing / golfing estates . . . 

Even as far as one per household.  

With on site systems in place, so that no sewage leaves the property, sewer lines can be abandoned, and pumpstations shut down.  The existing sewer works would still be used for city sewage and industrial wastewater, but as the flow (load) is greatly reduced, these large facilities could produce a far better quality final effluent, than we are seeing now.

Then, there is water recycling & saving.  Durban Metro are nearing completion of a R 880 000 million program on replacement of aged clean water pipes within the city, which, as reported, will save up to 10% water. Package plants will save up to 40%.

This will happen.  There is no other option.

Why has it not already happened?

In the case of Durban Metro, no one really knows. But, as there are about 660 000 households in Durban, and based on the success rate of existing systems, we would have a potential of 650 000 failures.

This is why we have taken a prominent stand on what the market place is offering.  We need to get this right, before we have a million systems to fix.

And, finally, there is the politics of it all. 

 Job creation.

Should Durban adopt a "One house  - one Plant" policy, this would create an additional 5000 short term jobs and about 1000 permanent ones. 

Maybe Jacob Zuma will achieve his promised 500 000 jobs by year end. 

  Germ Killers

Oxymorons (or simply morons)

The list of germ killers below that claim to be safe for septic tanks.



Active ingredient




Sodium Hypochlorite

Reckett Benckiser


Harpic toilet cleaner

Benzalkonium Chloride

Reckett Benckiser


Jeyes Bleach

Sodium Hydroxide

Adcock Ingram



Sodium Hypochlorite







 Water - Time Capsules

While we include photos of the present, we sometimes manage to get into the future as well.  In this case, this is the Port Shepstone golf course when global warming increases sea levels. 

Actually, it is not a time warp thing. The adjacent estuary choked up and the water backed up, flooding the golf course.


The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry  (DWAF) has now become the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs (DWEA) and we wonder where the forestry part went.
We were asked to investigate the new registration policy for package treatment plants, and duly went off to the local DWAF office to get the latest documents. 
- 81 pages long -
This department no longer handles forestry, because there are no trees left.  They have all been chopped down for application forms.

Steve - Wastewater Watch


 May 2009

Now that our elections are over, we will expect to see a lot more showering in government.  This could mean that we will see a reduction water usage, and also a reduction in Aids.

The SA elections were held on the same day as Earth Day, and suggest there is some hidden meaning. Despite the showering and the AIDS, SA population is expanding faster than infrastructure, electricity  and water supplies can be provided. Already the world's resources are in "deficit".

The world bank says:

  • The world’s population is growing by 200,000 people a day.
  • In the next 35 years, 2.5 billion people will be added to the current population of 6 billion.
Where are we going to put all these people?
In the next edition of the Wastewater Watch, we will devote most of the space to the importance of package plants, because they will play a vital role in our survival.

 Report Back

Clear Edge promotes their product by listing a number of owners as references.  One reference was Cyril Cain at Engen (031 250 2929).  We contacted Cyril who said he did not know too much about it, and put us on to Barry Sitheram. Barry was previously employed by Shell to do the same job, and has since been nominated by us, for the Polluter of the Year award, for his approval of the two new system now installed on the N3 Engen 1Stops near Ladysmith.  Barry's response to our questions were,

    "No Comment 

He referred us to Samantha, from a Capetown based PR company.  She offered us an avenue to put our case to Engen, and we have done so.


During our follow-up on all traceable references given by the Clear Edge website, all the relevant details were suddenly removed. Fortunately, we had a copy, and once we have completed our investigations, we will submit our results.

Some interesting stuff. 

JoJo have contacted us in reference to the failed Kearsney tanks.  The letter below refers:


Date : 20 April 2009

Attention : Wastewater Watch

Fax / e-mail :

Re : Wastewater Watch

Your "Wastewater Watch" April 2009 has reference:

I must say that I have really enjoyed the articles, specifically at to your line of thinking and shared concerns.

As to the Kearsney College installation, I have sent someone out to inspect the site and confirm the opinion expressed in my original letter referred to in your article.

We are currently communicating with Lilliput and will assist them as far as possible.

Kind regards

Pieter du Plessis

Sales Director

Thanks Pieter. Considering plastic tanks have become the most cost effective method of holding water, it is great to have a supplier that takes serious interest in the water industries that use their products.Ed

(see Tweni Mews) 

 Water Specialists

We have referred to Dr Anthony Turton several times in our newsletters.  Dr Turton is indeed an accomplished person, who has published many water (and other related) articles, the list being a chapter on it's own.  A gem.

Please visit Anthony Turton's website to see his true depth

Dumped from the government (CSIR) for speaking out about the water crisis, we finally managed to track Dr. Turton down, and sent him our latest newsletter.

Dr. Turton replied,
"When I was at the CSIR I drove a project called  "Science in the Service of Society",
the object being exactly what you are trying to achieve here. I believe that for science to be relevant it must also be accessible and thus understood by ordinary people. Science can and should help us to deepen our democracy by empowering people to engage with their elected officials over issues that affect their daily lives. But this is "messy" and so most scientists avoid it.
In any event I have lost my official platform now so I have been effectively silenced in that sense of the word.
Your work is thus credible and laudable.
Best wishes,
It can be said that the government did us all a favour by releasing Dr Turton from his duties. 
We did not know much of him, or the very serious problems South Africa is facing until that point.  No, Sir, you have not been silenced, not by a long shot.Ed

 Tweni Mews - KZN South Coast

We were asked to investigate a leak on a package plant, at Tweni Mews, on the KZN South Coast.

The plant was a Lilliput system, and the tank had sprung a leak on the weld.  The one rib had also showed a sign of fracture.

We wrote to Lilliput, as below:

Dear Mark / Neville,
We were asked to advise on the leak on a Lilliput system, installed about two years ago at Tweni Mews - South Coast .
We found the airsock pipe was leaking from the weld, and that the tank had fractured at that point.  We also found that the rib, just above the leak is also fractured. 
Based on our investigations into the Kearsney plant, this tank could rupture at any moment.  This would cause untreated sewage to spill into the environment until such time as a suitable replacement is found.
We believe this is a design fault in the Lilliput system and feel that the biotower needs to be replaced under the Lilliput "lifetime" warranty. It is also understood that the clarifier collapsed and was replaced, which is not an isolated case.
We have contacted the agents for Tweni Mews, and they are awaiting your proposal.  We must stress the urgency in this matter.
Steve - Wastewater Watch
Thursday, April 16, 2009 9:53 PM

Within a week, which included a public holiday, the plant had been inspected, emptied, tank welded, and was ready for refilling. JoJo also went to site and inspected the tanks.

Miemie, the South Coast agent wrote to us, as below:

Hi Steve,
Another thousand thank you's for your help and support. After I spoke to you this morning Mark Ross (Lilliput) came to see the tank for himself.
If it wasn't for you I would've been so uninformed. Ryan tried to put the blame on some one else, like the tank was bumped etc.
Mark undertook to replace the whole tank if it starting to leak again. The tank is bulging and definitely leaning to the one side. He saw that and admit that it is bulging. The Jo Jo tank guy was also at Tweni this morning. 
I forward your newsletter to the trustees.

Thanks Miemie.  Again, these comments give us clear indication that we are heading in the right direction.  But, we have always felt that we need to have balanced reporting, and that when we have been critical of a product, person or project, we must also be prepared to acknowledge when 'wrongs' are 'righted'.  In this case, Lilliput knew what was expected of them, and they performed.

To the Lilliput team  - Mark and Neville. Thanks. Ed 

  Septic systems

Our authorities continue to promote the use of septic system which include soakaways and long drops (VIP's) because they are better than nothing. Durban metro have gone away from VIP's for "environmental" reasons.

Then this report, from the mother of all polluters, the USA, under the new administration of Obama.


The funding announced today will be allocated to 193 projects and create or save an estimated 12,385 jobs. They are the first of many projects that will receive Recovery Act funds to improve rural water and waste disposal systems. For example, the Yuma County Improvement District in Arizona has been selected to receive $14.6 million to connect approximately 1,000 homes to a municipal treatment system. The project will reduce groundwater contamination from failing septic systems and improve the water quality of the Colorado River.

Courtesy of

There is a difference between politicians 'talking sh*t' ,and producing 'verbal diarrhoea'.

Maybe Obama knows the difference and is acting on it. Ed 

 Racist Water Pollution

We received a comment from a company, within the water treatment industry, that a government department would not deal with them because they are white. This deserves some reaction from us.

Pollution is a national problem, a crisis.  It affects each and everyone of us, black and white.  However, the massive pollution we now see is a direct result of the government we now have.  A government which feels that submarines, soccer stadiums and high speed trainsets are more important than what comes out the tap, is in serious trouble.  When someone comes knocking saying they can help, the last thing that should be asked is what race they are.

Pollution is racist.  One only needs to look at all those sick people in cholera ridden Zimbabwe, and who overflowed into South Africa - they were all black people.  And those that can afford to drink bottled (purified) water are not township dwellers, but  people in high positions who's policies exclude white help.

Sewage is also racist!

We have grey water and black water. Nothing white.

  Germ Killers

Oxymorons (or simply morons)

The list of germ killers below that claim to be safe for septic tanks.



Active ingredient




Sodium Hypochlorite

Reckett Benckiser


Harpic toilet cleaner

Benzalkonium Chloride

Reckett Benckiser


Jeyes Bleach

Sodium Hydroxide

Adcock Ingram



Sodium Hypochlorite







 Water - Time Capsules

This is a view from Interlaken Guest House, which overlooks Island Lake in Wilderness, Western Cape.


 All Flushed Away

Now the elections are over, and our predictions were correct, we could not let this one pass.  
Courtesy - Brandon

 April 2009


Since just before Christmas, we have done a fair bit of travelling, from Cape Town to the Okavango Delta and covering over 15 000kms - on a quest to find solutions to water related problems. 

While 'recharging batteries', one thing hits home now more than ever before,

What a wonderful world.

I just can't seem to imagine earth without water, despite being reminded every single day.

Do we know what earth looks like without water?

Yip.  Look at the moon.         Scary!

As we only really appreciate things when they have gone, the Wastewater Watch  has added another feature to the newsletter and website, which will remind us in the years to come, of what we had. (see Water - Time Capsules)

 Report Back

Within a week of the publishing of the March WwW, in which we included a report on the Clear Edge clinic system, that supplier had revamped his website, with all new content.  The offensive system was not only removed from site, but was quickly removed from cyberspace.  The website now offers referrals and testimonials from clients and owners.  We will follow up on these, and report back.

Mark Ross and Neville Nixon, from Lilliput, have suggested that their systems failed after we have visited them, and suppose this is acceptable comment from these two individuals.  We will, therefore, also be blamed for the failure in Mali, a huge project on a gold mine in the desert, initiated and condoned by professional consultant, Gary Brown (Dikubu Environmental).  We have never been to Mali.

We will also be blamed for the failure of a system on a diamond mine in Messina, also initiated and condoned by Gary Brown.  We have only been there once, and long before the plant was even installed.

We know we are unique, even considered super heroes by at least one reader, but we are simply not that good. Should the Lilliput team need to blame someone, maybe they should point a finger at Gary Brown, either for making Lilliput look bad, or possibly Lilliput making Gary Brown look good.

Either way, Gary has the right colour.Ed

 Water Elections

As this is the last newsletter before the SA elections, the voting public have mentioned water more often than anything else, except crime, on their wish list.

Very rarely is water related story not included in a news bulletin, or programs Fokus/ 50-50 / and Carte Blanche.  Why is there so much attention on water, despite the Water minister claiming there is "no crisis".


Is it because water is now scarce? (clean water - that is - we have more than enough of the polluted stuff).

On the subject of elections, we predict a water related party will win the election - see tail piece. Ed 

 Water Penalties (or Penal Ties?)

We thank Debbie, from George, for this report. 

"Professor Faizal Bux commended the Ethekwini municipality for imposing strong penalties on industrial companies that discharged effluent into the natural water resources".

We contacted Chris Fennemore  BSc(Hons), Pri Sci Nat, FWISA
Manager: Pollution & Environment Branch (Durban Metro) for answers.

We asked,
"Please advise which companies have been penalised and what products / by-products were they discharging into the water course."

Chris said that there were "ramifications" in giving this info, but would see what he could do.  He also asked for our (my) credentials.  - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:42 PM


"Once again you have not shown your credentials." - Thursday, March 26, 2009 12:29 PM


"You are splitting hairs.  Credentials include experience (Achievements) and professional qualifications/ education.

I see that we cannot even begin to start a dialogue since you evade even the  simplest question.  I think three times of asking is enough.  Please don't waste my time any further". -
Friday, March 27, 2009 12:02 PM

I was under the impression one does not need to be a professor to ask questions, and if this was a plan to discredit the Wastewater Watch, it clearly failed. Chris - we do not need to have credentials to ask you anything and we are under no obligation to offer you any info.  However, as a public servant (a servant of the public) you are obliged to give us the info we request.  If you do not have the answers, just say so! 

Oh, and as you are employed by the ratepayers, you were not wasting your time, but ours.  On the subject of credentials, has anyone asked what qualifications are needed to be head of state.  

Looks like none - see tail piece

Durban Metro is fast becoming the last resting place for bum engineers, managers, mayors, technicians, and bus companies.  However, when retirement becomes reality, there is one special place in which all Metro staff will find quite comfortable in their "sunset years". Ed



 Ground Water

The western Cape, and in particular the garden route, has seen some devastating dry conditions for several years now. Boreholes, dams and other water sources have all but dried up. What little water that is still available is either polluted or threatened.  Much of the area is still on septic tanks and soak aways.

We would like to appeal to the public. Firstly, please do not discharge your waste into a soak away - there is a possibility that this wastewater will end up in someone's icecubes. Secondly, please support the groundwater associations - there is a probability that you will need their future support.  These dedicated professionals and volunteers have been gathering information which will keep us alive. Our local Groundwater Association (click here) will give you details of a local branch near you. 

 Kearsney College Tank Failures

We featured Kearsney College's Lilliput system last month in which several tanks had failed. As JoJo are the largest supplier of tanks in the country, and supply several package plant manufacturers, we asked them for their opinion.

Above - early fracture.                       Below - result

JoJo's response :
"Dear Steve
Your mail dated 31 ultimo refers.

Regrettably the photo's do not show all the details that I need to establish the specific cause for failure, but the following however is very clear :

1.   All the cracks on the tanks begin at all the spots where the tanks were welded;

2.   The welded joints are so close together that the movement of the one pipe straight ahead and the other sideward pipe puts enormous stress on the tank;

3.   The coupling members between tanks are not supposed to be linked in the way depicted on the photo's, meaning directly (straight) from the one tank into the other.  The tanks stretch and shrink all the time due to heat and cold, and also because of the product that is pumped into and from the tank.  Tanks should be linked with a manifold system.

4.   A tank's natural movement should not be restricted in order to allow the tank to "live" and such limitation is the main reason why tanks crack.

I trust that the above answers your questions.  Should you have further enquiries, you are welcome to contact me in order to assist you."


We are unaware of any tank failures on either Clear Edge or Scarab systems.  It must then be assumed that Lilliput's engineering design is/was flawed.  If this has not been corrected, there are a large number of systems in the field that would need to be recalled. Ed


  Germ Killers

Oxymorons (or simply morons)

The list of germ killers below that claim to be safe for septic tanks.



Active ingredient




Sodium Hypochlorite

Reckett Benckiser


Harpic toilet cleaner

Benzalkonium Chloride

Reckett Benckiser


Jeyes Bleach

Sodium Hydroxide

Adcock Ingram



Sodium Hypochlorite








Try Plaxo. This software allows you to change your contact details, address or occupation without losing touch.

It's brilliant and it's free. Link below.

And No.  We do not get commissions. Ed


 New products - Enchantrix

"Our products have been made with love and respect for our fragile planet and her inhabitants. They have been formulated to be effective and safe for you, your family and the environment," from their website.

Please visit their website and feedback would be much appreciated.Ed

 Water - Time Capsules

During our travels, we have collected important water related photo evidence of what our world looks like right now. Each photo was taken with a simple digital 'instamatic' and the only real skill required was to care.

The Sundays River, Eastern Cape.

(the photo was taken on a Sunday which is coincidental . . .) 

 The (d) rooling Party

In a couple of weeks, South Africans will go to the polls to elect a new government, and it appears water will play a major role.

The Shower Party

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