Published on The Water Blog

In Windhoek, Integrated Urban Water Management is Key to Closing the Water Loop

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The city of Windhoek is probably best known for the fact that it is the world pioneer of drinking water reclamation from purified sewage effluent.

Windhoek lies in the heart of Namibia, the most arid Country in Sub Saharan Africa. All existing water resources are optimally utilized in a number of different ways. Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) lies at the heart of these approaches, both in using water that is fit for purpose and in diversifying water sources.

As long ago as 1969, the world renowned Goreangab Reclamation plant was commissioned, which supplied between 10 and 15 percent of the city’s daily demand for potable water. This plant was upgraded several times and the capacity reached 10 Ml per day by 1992. A new plant was commissioned in 2002, enabling the city to, at any given time, supply up to 35% of daily demand from direct potable reclamation. Just four days ago, 25 percent of the water in our drinking water distribution was raw sewage.

During 1993, Windhoek installed a dual pipe system to ensure that all municipal parks, gardens and sports fields, are irrigated with semi-purified sewage effluent. This replaces between 5 and 7 percent of potable water demand.

Windhoek started implementing Water Demand management back in 1994. Pioneering work was done, and the success thereof can be seen in that we currently have a water demand of 25 million Cubic meters per annum, compared to a low scenario projection of 46 million cubes per annum.

We have also investigated and successfully implemented artificial aquifer recharge, a project that started in 1997 and is being implemented in phases as funding permits. This project will enable the city to survive for two years without any surface water from our ephemeral rivers.
In Windhoek, the saying of Benjamin Franklin, the value of water will not be known until the well runs dry, has been proven many times over. We have indeed closed the water loop.

Ms. Elaine Trepper is the former Mayor of Windhoek, one of the cities piloting IUWM. She will be discussing her city’s experiences and lessons learned during the AfriCities event in Dakar on December 6.  Windhoek’s experience is part of a larger IUWM effort funded by the World Bank’s Water Partnership Program (WPP). Over the past 3 years, the WPP has supported the promotion of IUWM approaches on a global level, funding pilot approaches in several large cities in Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe and Central Asia. The dissemination of the lessons from pilots has sparked interest by several cities such as Nairobi and Sao Paulo which are planning to use World Bank funds to incorporate IUWM principles into pilot projects."


Elaine Trepper

Former Mayor of Windhoek

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