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Dr Heidi Snyman 

South Africa participates in the 12th IWASludge Conference 2009, Harbin, China

The 12th International Water Association (IWA) Sludge Conference 2009 was held under the theme ‘Sustainable Management of Water & Wastewater Sludges’. It took place in Harbin, in the Heilongjiang Province of China, from 8 to 10 August 2009. The event was organised by the Chinese Government, the International Water Association (IWA) in collaboration with the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), and Chinese water research institutions. IWA's intention is to promote the integrated management of water as the best strategy for securing safe water supplies and adequate sanitation for communities worldwide. It is also the most practical way of directing technical competence and promoting effective management of both water quality and water quantity. Dr Heidi Snyman, Director for Water-Centred Knowledge at the Water Research Commission, attended the conference in her capacity as member of the governing board of the IWA Specialist Group on Sludge Management (SGSM); she also serves on IWA’s Technical Programme Committee.

At the conference Dr Snyman presented a paper entitled ‘The Economic, Social, Environmental and Health Impacts of Implementing Sustainable Sludge Management Practices in a Developing Country’. This outlined the positive economic impact of the use of sludge in land application, brick manufacturing, composting and fertiliser manufacturing.  ‘Wastewater sludge management in South Africa (as an example of a typical developing country) is guided by a series of wastewater sludge guidelines (developed by the WRC) encouraging the beneficial use of sludge but also allowing responsible disposal options’ says Dr Snyman.

‘The opportunities for shared progress in pollution control have expanded’ says Dr Steve Dentel, chair of the IWA SGSM. ‘Knowledge exchange was important for both China and the international community since it provided an opportunity for international professionals to meet and work together towards sustainable approaches to solving issues of sludge management’. ‘The rapid expansion of China’s economy has been accompanied by many environmental issues including degradation of water quality’ says the Conference Chairperson, Professor Guibai Li. ’To solve its water pollution problems massive investments in water and wastewater treatment are to be undertaken in China over the upcoming decades’’

Click here to read a full paper

Compiled by : Hlengiwe Cele

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