ATC180822: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation on Study Tour to the Netherlands, 4-8 June 2018 dated 22 August 2018

Water and Sanitation


The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation, having undertaken a study tour to the Netherlands from the 4-8 June 2018, reports as follows:


1. Introduction


The Portfolio Committee resolved at its strategic planning workshop held in 2014 to conduct a study tour on Water Governance and Wastewater Treatment Technologies. In this regard, the Netherlands was identified as a country with best practice in respect to water governance and wastewater treatment technologies. The study tour focused on the following issues:


•           Water and Sanitation Policies and Regulations; 

•           Wastewater Treatment Technological Systems and Innovations;

•           Water Leaks Management and Control;

•           Regulation and Setting of Water Services Tariffs;

•           Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Financing and Management; and

•           Water and Wastewater Utility Configuration and Management.




The multi-party delegation comprised the following Members, namely:




Mr M Johnson (ANC) (Chairperson); Mr HP Chauke (ANC); Mr D Mnguni (ANC); Ms N.K Bilankulu (ANC); Ms HB Kekana (ANC); Mr LJ Basson (DA); Ms C Visser (DA) and Ms MS Khawula (EFF)




Mrs M Solomons (Committee Secretary) and Mr T Manungufala (Committee Researcher)




2.  Background


South Africa and the Netherlands entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2013.  The MoU provided a framework for cooperation in the fields of water resources on a basis of mutual benefit. This is particularly in reference to water safety, flood protection, water supply and sanitation, climate change, water governance, water for food and ecosystems and integrated water resources management.  This has emanated in a strong working relationships between South African and Dutch water boards, non-governmental organisations, water companies, municipalities, knowledge institutions and businesses. Netherlands has since invested immensely in the water sector in South Africa through, among others, skills development programme under the Kingfisher Programme and the development of the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan.


Over and above, the MoU between the two countries, of particular significance to Members of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation was to understand the processes undertaken by the Netherlands to become a world leader in integrated water governance and innovative water and wastewater treatment technologies.  This has culminated in the advancement within the Netherlands water sector   in the following areas:


•           Developing world-class technologies supported by top-end knowledge institutions in the field of water;

•           Reclamation of land from the sea;

•           Advances made in water management in relation to spatial planning, water supply and water quality; and

•           Innovative and cost-effective solutions for river basin management, water treatment and water supply.


Whilst South Africa has demonstrated achievements to address the challenges in the water and sanitation sector, the country, within its own developmental agenda is seriously grappling with the following:


•           The development and investment of new water resources and water supply infrastructure;

•           The governance of inter-basin water management;

•           The role of the private sector in the water and sanitation sector;

•           Optimally utilising the knowledge institutes in developing technologies;

•           The role of water boards in governance and management of bulk water provision to municipalities;

•           The current and future roles of Catchment Management Agencies;

•           The importance of the implementation of integrated water resources management;

•           The impact of limited skilled personnel in the scientific and engineering fields, which has limitations in the rapid roll-out of water and sanitation infrastructure; and

•           Advancing the need for implementing policies, legislation, as well as drafting master plans.


Netherlands, on the other hand, has enough safe and clean water. However, the governance, financing, operations, and maintenance of its systems across the water value chain is constantly being monitored and overseen not only by Members of Parliament in the House of Representatives and Senate, but by all relevant stakeholders. 


2.1 Kingfisher Programme


The objective of the Kingfisher Programme is to capacitate the Catchment Management Agencies on water governance, and ensure the exchange of skills and expertise with the local government. It was established through the MoU between the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Dutch Association of Water Authorities and the cooperation agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG International). The Kingfisher Programme is a bilateral cooperation programme on water governance between South Africa’s water institutions (Catchment Management Agencies) and Dutch Regional Water Authorities. The Kingfisher Phase 1 ran from 2013-2016 and Phase 2 ran from 2017- 2018.  Activities were developed and implemented as part of the Kingfisher Programme and focused on the following areas:


  • Establishment of the Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs);
  • Organisational development, processes to develop internal and organisational structures;
  • Operationalisation to ensure that the CMAs perform initial, assigned and delegated functions;
  • Stakeholder engagement;
  • Transboundary water management; and
  • Cooperative governance with municipalities.


3.  Dutch Parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Water Management


The States General of the Netherlands (Staten-Generaal) is the bicameral legislature of the Netherlands consisting of the Senate (Eerste Kamer) and the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer). The Tweede Kamer, (Second Chamber) is the lower house of the bicameral parliament of the Netherlands. It has 150 seats, which are filled through elections using a party-list proportional representation process. Specialist issues are dealt with by standing committees with Members of Parliament who specialise in the portfolio. Standing Committees perform oversight over government policy, as well as the responsible minister and government department. The role of the Dutch Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Water Management is to perform oversight over water service delivery.


The Dutch Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Water Management   noted that given that more than a third of the Netherlands is below sea level, the Dutch government had to develop innovative solutions to protect against flooding. Due to rising sea levels and the low lying geography of the Netherlands, rising sea levels and flooding were major challenges identified by the Standing Committee. Therefore, climate change adaptation strategies and innovations, and the effectiveness of government response has been a high priority for the Standing Committee.


With respect to spatial planning, the Standing Committee indicated that when housing and infrastructure in the Netherlands is built, existing buildings are adapted in such a way that they are sensitive to climate change and to anticipate the reality of flooding.


With respect to water policy management, the Standing Committee indicated that the existence of water authorities in the Netherlands predates its Constitution, dating back to the thirteenth century. Furthermore, water is placed outside of the political spectrum. In respect of budgeting for water management, the government sets aside billions in respect of future planning and maintenance of water infrastructure for the next 30 - 40 years. The 21 regional water authorities in the Netherlands are an autonomous, fully-fledged authority alongside the state and provincial and local governments.


The Dutch rank first in the European Union and second worldwide in relation to its value of agricultural exports, behind only the United States, with exports earning €80.7 billion in 2014, up from €75.4 billion in 2012. The Dutch agricultural sector is highly mechanised, and accounts for 21 per cent of the Dutch total export value. Agricultural access to water is through private water companies, which sell water to consumers, farmers and businesses. During dry spells, farmers are allowed to access water from dikes and ditches to irrigate crops.  Parliamentary oversight over water management is done through briefing sessions with the relevant ministers as well as bi-annual debates on water. 


4. Dutch Water Authorities


4.1. Water Governance in the Netherlands


The Netherlands is a delta comprised of four international river basins. Netherlands is a Member of the European Union. Water governance in the Netherlands is firstly guided by the European Union. National government is responsible for national water policy, legal standards (flood protection, environmental standards), supervision and operational tasks for national water infrastructure (Rijkswaterstraat). Provinces are responsible for regional water policy, licensing the major groundwater abstractions and the supervision of Regional Water Authorities and municipalities. Netherlands has 380 municipalities, which are responsible for sewage systems, storm water collection and urban ground water levels, while the 21 Regional Water Authorities are responsible for flood protection, water quantity and quality management and wastewater treatment. The ten drinking water companies are owned by municipalities and the provinces are responsible for water supply, reticulation and wastewater treatment, which is government owned, but privately run.


Water Authorities in the Netherlands have its own tax system, and only receive 15 per cent of its annual allocation from the national fiscus. The total annual water budget is €6.7 billion; of which 42 per cent comes from regional water authorities; 21 per cent from tariffs collected from drinking water companies, 15 per cent from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (national government), and 20 per cent from provinces and 2 per cent from municipalities. Water has its own taxation in the Netherlands and every individual household is responsible for three water bills (drinking water, sewage and waste water treatment). The drinking water companies provide drinking water. Municipalities have no role in this regard. Water accounts for 1.29 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of the Netherlands and any surplus profit is reinvested back into the water sector. Taxes received for water are ring-fenced and cannot be used for any other purpose.


In 2014, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a report on Dutch water governance. The report was commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and Dutch Water Authorities. In the report, the OECD expresses its respect for water governance in the Netherlands, which it typifies as a “global reference”. According to the OECD, water governance in the Netherlands is organised efficiently, and this applies to the role played by the regional water authorities.


The main challenge in the Netherlands in respect of water governance are related to climate change. However, government is investing in new safety standards for flood protection until 2050, as well as with the strengthening of 1500 of dikes at an estimated cost of €11- 15 billion. During discussions with the Authorities it was noted that the Dutch Water Authorities are working closely with the Department of Water and Sanitation to develop the Water and Sanitation Master Plan through the MoU which seeks to enhance capacity building.




4.2. Role of Regional Water Authorities


Water governance in the Netherlands is built on a powerful administrative organisation with a legally embedded system of water management. Furthermore, due to dedicated taxes and tariffs, there is an adequate financing streams to fund water activities and governance. There is a significant participatory approach to water governance, with cooperation from both inside and outside water management. Water management in the Netherlands is a public and highly decentralised function with close involvement of the private sector to maintain water works. Every water system is under public competence, and whilst the property may be privately owned, private ownership does not interfere with public authority. There is significant cooperation in the sector across all spheres of government through the National Steering Committee on Water, which is chaired by the Dutch Ministry for Infrastructure and Water Management since the inception of the 2003 Administrative Agreements on Water.


Regional Water Authorities in the Netherlands have existed since 1255, and are self-governing with their own taxation system, own board and elections and employs 11 500 staff. The responsibilities of the 21 Regional Water Authorities are the following:


  • Flood protection of approximately 18 000 kilometres of land;
  • 3700 pumping stations which enable flood protection, with 340 waste water treatment plants.


Decentralisation of water management only works if capable authorities are created with sufficient staff and knowledge, clear responsibilities, strong powers, sufficient tax income. Furthermore, the presenters argued that decentralisation must not lead to fragmentation.


The legal basis for Regional Water Authorities (RWA) are found in Article 133 of the Dutch Constitution as well as the Regional Authorities Act of 1992, which is the institutional setting that guides establishment, regulation, abolishment by province, composition of the board, competencies, financing systems and  taxes.  Furthermore, the Water Act of 2009 provides for an integrated law with competencies and obligations for public authorities on how to deal with water management. It is important to note that the RWAs work very closely with the Department of Water and Sanitation to facilitate decentralisation of South African water governance through the Memorandum of Understanding to establish Catchment Management Agencies. The Dutch Water Authorities, in their consultation and engagement with the Department of Water and Sanitation noted the extent to which water management in South Africa was fragmented amongst many authorities, resulting in institutions operating in silos. A greater level of financial and governance cooperation across all spheres of government was advocated for in South Africa in order to make the water management system more efficient. Furthermore, taking from the example of the Dutch Regional Water Authorities, a greater level of decentralisation in terms of water management through the Catchment Management Agencies, was strongly recommended.


The Dutch financing system is highly decentralised with the total costs of water management approximately €7 billion per year. Of this amount, only 15 per cent is financed through the central government.  The bulk of the financing structure €5.5 billion is financed by different taxes, households, farmers and business. Of importance is that the Dutch authorities adhere to the international principles underpinned by the polluter/ beneficiary/ user pays principle. Households make a 74 per cent contribution towards water costs, whilst industries 24 per cent and farmers 2 per cent.


In 2017, Regional Water Authorities collected €2.7 billion in taxes, which covered 95 per cent of all water management costs. Tariffs are structured in such a way as to allow for the best water quality at the most cost effective price.  Given the sufficient tax RWA receives, they are almost completely self-supporting with sufficient funding for the necessary investment and day-to-day maintenance of water works.  The tax collected is ring-fenced and funds can only be utilised within its allocated mandate and must be spent on water management purposes. This provides greater credibility and trust to consumers.


5. Netherlands Water Bank


The Nederlandse Waterschapsbank is a Dutch specialist financial institution that provides funding for water boards and local government organisations in the Netherlands. It is a Local Government Funding Agency owned by the Dutch Water boards and provinces.


Established in the 1950s, the water board union regularly lent money to the individual Water Boards. However, the union was not well equipped to handle the banking and lending activities and in December 19, 1952, it decided to set up a separate water board bank to handle this task. The bank would raise risk less capital from the water boards, which later extended to other government organisations. This money was then lent to water boards as required. The main aim was to provide the cheapest possible source of funding for the government entities.


The disaster caused by the North Sea flood of 1953 sped up the development of the bank and on May 1954, the bank was established as a Limited company by the 142 water boards of the Netherlands.

The bank is fully owned by Dutch government entities and only the Dutch state and local entities may be shareholders in the bank. Based on 2013 data, 81 per cent is held by the Dutch water boards, 17 per cent by the Dutch government and 2 per cent by the provinces. Although it is a registered bank, it only lends to Dutch government entities, and does not provide any services to individuals or companies.


The NWB Bank provides credit to local authorities, provinces, public institutions in the area of public housing, public health services and education and for water and environmental projects.


The bank raises funds on the international money and capital markets on the basis of a very strong balance sheet and high credit rating. The Nederlandse Waterschapsbank has a Triple A rating from Moody's and Standard & Poor's (January 2012) and was placed 6 out of 50 banks in the Global Finance worlds 50th safest banks in 2013. As the banks customers are government entities with very high credit ratings, the risk of default is very low.


6. National Association of Local Governments (VNG)


VNG International is the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities. It supports decentralisation processes and facilitates decentralised cooperation. It furthermore provides capacity-building services to strengthen local governments, its associations, training institutions and decentralisation task forces, both in developing countries and countries in transition. VNG International build on existing experience, with high quality services such as benchmarks, tools for tax collection and handbooks. Daughter companies have been set up in countries such as the Czech Republic and Tunisia.  The VNG association with South Africa dates back 25 years and the Agency has collaborated with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) to establish the Centre for Municipal Research and Advice (CMRA), which supports and strengthens municipalities and Local Government Associations across South Africa.


Municipalities in the Netherlands have undergone a process of amalgamation, which has seen them being reduced from over 600 to 380. This is a balanced structure in terms of size and capacity of municipalities and ensures that services are close to citizens. In the last five years, there has been a greater degree of decentralisation of social services resulting in services to the elderly, youth now being the responsibility of municipalities.


Municipal competencies include the following:


  • Land management, specifically local zoning laws;
  • Urban development;
  • Transport and local infrastructure;
  • Social affairs, employment and welfare;
  • Economy and the environment; and
  • Education.


Spatial planning has been designed to anticipate floods. The rainwater harvesting and wastewater are operated on two different systems from households. The water management system is incredibly efficient with the focus on greener cities, resulting in rainwater being harvested to cool buildings. Flood protection is a cornerstone of Dutch water governance. In the event that flood protection mechanisms were to fail, two thirds of the Netherlands would be underwater. At present, as the water levels are rising, the land is sinking year by year. The Dutch implement multi-layer safety initiatives with a focus on waterproofing and climate change sustainable solutions.


7. Netherlands Association of Drinking Water Companies (Verwin)


Verwin is an association of drinking water companies established in 1952, whose Members comprise drinking water companies. The board comprises ten member organisations and an independent Chair. The core business of Verwin is to represent the common interests of drinking water companies.


There are ten drinking water companies in the Netherlands with 180 locations across the Netherlands. The companies abstract 60 per cent of its water sources from groundwater and 40 per cent from surface water, managing a piped water system of 120 000 kilometres. The legislative framework is provided through the Drinking Water Act of 2011. . Drinking water companies are largely autonomous with government supervision mainly on water quality and continuity. As mandated by the Act, in terms of economic regulation, the tariffs must be transparent and non-discriminatory. Transparency is an obligatory benchmark set out by the Act. This benchmark includes an obligation for drinking water companies to benchmark every three years against each other in respect of the entire field from water quality to continuity and the setting of tariffs.


The Inspectorate for Environment and Transport is the Regulator responsible for the supervision of drinking water standards. The distribution networks of drinking water companies are spread across 119 000 kilometres. The average nine “minutes lost” in respect of water service is very low and is attributed to planned maintenance of water networks and water leakage.  The Netherlands is amongst the lowest in the world at an average of 5 per cent. The government encourages the use of surface water by charging a groundwater abstraction levy. Average municipal water use is among the lowest in developed countries.


8. Royal Haskoning DHV


Royal Haskoning DHV is an independent international engineering and project management consultancy firm, which employs over 6000 staff in over 1000 permanent offices, in over 30 countries in the world. Royal Haskoning also has a presence in South Africa since 1922, and is a Level 1 Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment consulting firm. Within South Africa, Royal Haskoning DHV employs over 1000 people and has offices in eleven locations across South Africa.


The company is involved in a number of innovations which includes sludge beneficiation; wastewater and water treatment management technologies such as NEREDA© and Aquasuite©.


Aqausuite© provides smart solutions developed throughout the water value chain. It provides the ultimate advanced monitoring and control software platform for the water sector. It is the best solution for helping ensure less leakage, lower costs, less energy, more efficiency, higher water quality and higher customer satisfaction.  Aquasuite© provides water companies with unique analytics and real-time holistic calm control of the entire man-made water cycle. This results in lowering operating costs, reducing capital investment and enabling proactive maintenance and proactive warning of leaks, bursts, overflows and pollution incidents. This system is currently being implemented in Fisantekraal Waste Water Treatment Plant in the Western Cape for the City of Cape Town.  The system allows for better operational decisions with Aquasuite© decision to support systems which also provide smart performance indicators and automated operational advice. 


Further projects in South Africa include the Kleinkrantz Waste Water Treatment Works, which in 2017 scooped top honours at the South African Institution of Civil Engineers (SAICE), Southern Cape Regional Awards; and received the award for the Most Outstanding Water Engineering Project. The George Municipality commissioned Royal Haskoning DHV to design and manage the project. The plant treats effluent from the wilderness and surrounds. During construction, the design was adapted to re-use parts of old structures that were excavated on site. This allowed savings on the project that could be utilised for additional improvements to the works.


Nereda© offers sustainable wastewater treatment solutions for municipal and industrial wastewater. The natural sewage treatment process purifies water without chemicals by using the patented aerobic granular sludge technology. Compared to activated sludge technologies, the biological treatment power of Nereda is much larger, as it saves  up to 50 per centon energy-costs, delivers high quality effluent for low costs and requires only a quarter of the area of conventional activated sludge installations. This technology was recently implemented at the Gansbaai Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Western Cape which is located in an environmentally sensitive area. The local municipality of Overstrand was planning to upgrade the plant from a 3 megalitres per day capacity to a 5 megalitres per day capacity. Because of the location, the work for the size of any new development needed to be kept to a minimum and water conservation had to be prioritised. The outcome of this project is that the effluent produced at Gansbaai is of such high quality that it can be re-used as irrigation water in the surrounding areas. Parkland and sports fields benefit from this recycling, while some of the water is safely discharged into the Berg River. In addition to its environmental benefits, Nereda© has proved to be thoroughly cost effective, by using fewer construction materials and requiring dramatically lower operating costs and energy consumption. It also has a 60 per cent smaller footprint than a conventional plant.


9. STOWA Foundation for Applied Water Research


The Stowa Foundation for Applied Water Research is responsible for wastewater research innovation and research as well as lobbying activities in The Hague.  The Foundation is a knowledge centre and broker of the Dutch Water Authorities and Provinces. Its mission is to define, develop, collect, distribute and implement applied knowledge, which the water managers need in order to adequately carry out their tasks. The Foundation has a board and employs 8 employees with an annual budget of €7.5- €10 million. Its research base cuts across universities, consultancy firms and institutions. It is part of the global water research initiative, which includes South African organisations such as the Water Research Commission. Important drivers for the Foundation include the following:


  • Increasing attention for sustainability as it relates to water quality and circular economy;
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation;
  • Water safety;
  • Cost consciousness; and
  • Political attention for Water Management Integrated solutions.


10. Wateropleidingen - World Water Academy and AquaDactics


The Wateropleidingen - World Water Academy & AquaDactics is an organisation which provides training to water professionals by water professionals. It is an ISO 9001 with public and private clients.  The Academy is financially independent with an annual turnover of €3 million. 


The Academy has 2 800 participants with 1 000 examinations held every year. There are 100 courses offered to a duration of 220 days with 250 freelance trainers and 25 staff members. The courses offered in South Africa include the Basics of Water distribution through the City of Cape Town as well as the Weather Smart Water Resource Management through the Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency.





11. Site visit to Nereda Innovative Wastewater Treatment Technology Facility, Epe


The Epe Sewage Treatment Plant in the Netherlands was the first full scale domestic wastewater treatment plant in the Netherlands to install the innovative Nereda sewage treatment technology. The technology allows for the treatment of wastewater with the unique feature of aerobic granular biomass. Invented by the Delft University of Technology, Nereda was developed in partnership with Royal Haskoning DHV, the Dutch Foundation for Applied Water Research and the Dutch Water Authorities.


The treatment plant, operated by the water authority, Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe, treats wastewater produced by the town of Epe and the surrounding area, including industrial and domestic waste. It needs to meet the clear water requirements of around 54000 people. Prior to the construction, a four-year long pilot trial was carried out and the data findings were used to design the full-scale plant.


The existing Epe sewage plant was replaced with a new treatment system based on Nereda technology. The system uses aerobic biological treatment methods that require no or minimal chemicals compared to conventional technologies. With Nereda, non-conventional bacteria consume wastewater and produces compact granules. The special micro-organisms used in the treatment system do not develop in floc structures like more traditional methods, but form concentrated compact granules. The granular biomass produced by these bacteria settles quickly, making separation of the granules from treated water easier. This quick settlement means lower energy consumption and a more sustainable process overall.


The new system in Epe takes up 20 per cent less space, 30 per cent less power and smaller quantities of chemical additives, resulting in a reduction of environmental pollution by about 50 per cent in comparison with conventional plants. The final effluent from the plant can be safely discharged of or used for agricultural purposes. Since it was commissioned, extensive monitoring of the Epe plant shows that the performance of Nereda has exceeded expectations. This is in respect of effluent quality meeting the highest standards in the Netherlands, achieving total nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations lower than 5 and 0.3 mg/l. The adoption of Nereda technology has doubled the plant’s treatment capacity.


12. Site Visit to Deltares Research Institution


Deltares is an independent institute for applied research in the field of water and subsurface with five areas of expertise, which include flood risk, adaptive delta planning, infrastructure, water and subsoil resources and environment.  Deltares reported in its presentation that Global groundwater footprint is about 3.5 times the actual area of aquifers. About 1.7 billion people live in areas where groundwater resources and/or groundwater-dependent ecosystems are under threat. Groundwater supplies are diminishing, with an estimated 20 per cent of the world’s aquifers currently over-exploited.


Innovative solutions created to address the over-exploitation of aquifers include Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR). The Managed Aquifer Recharge system allows for the intentional recharge of water to suitable aquifers for subsequent recovery or to achieve environmental benefits. The system managed process assures adequate protection of human health and the environment. MAR can also reduce the occurrence and degree of flooding. The objectives of MAR include the following:


  • Store water for long term storage;
  • Buffer capacity for seasonal droughts;
  • Smooth out demand and supply fluctuations;
  • Reduce evaporation loss;
  • Improve water quality;
  • Store excess storm/flood water;
  • Manage saline intrusion;
  • Manage land subsidence;
  • Strategic reserve for emergency situations;
  • Reducing runoff loss to oceans;
  • Raising groundwater table;
  • Store desalinated water;
  • Improve and sustain ecosystems;
  • Spare sewers of water overload;
  • Conservation of archaeological sites; and
  • Provide water for domestic, agricultural and industrial use.


13. Site Visit to a Control Room at Brabantse Delta

Water Board Brabantse Delta provides safe dikes and quays, purifies sewage water, improves and monitors the quality of the surface water and regulates the height of the water in Central and West Brabant. The purpose of the control room is to ensure better decisions are made with regard to water management, and improve reaction time towards emergencies such as flooding and pipe bursts, among other purposes. It also ensures that there is transparency towards stakeholders by providing information about water management in the Brabantse Delta.

The control room uses the SCADA software system.  It consists of a dashboard, which shows quality of the effluent and sludge levels. It also monitors the wastewater distribution system, for example, pump stations are shown on the map in a traffic light format. For instance, the light turns red when there is a malfunction at a particular pump station.  The closed circuit television (CCTV) is used to monitor the leakages and the entire sewer pipeline environment. A report on the state of sewer pipelines is produced every fifteen years. The system also monitors the groundwater levels in order to manage ground water use. This involves issuing permits for boreholes, which require owners to report ground water use on a monthly basis.


14. Site Visit to Nieuwveer Wastewater Treatment Plant

This wastewater treatment plant uses Annamox wastewater treatment technology. It uses annamox bacteria to treat wastewater by converting ammonium (NH4+) and nitrite (NO2-) into nitrogen gas. It is energy and cost efficient when compared with the conventional nitrification/denitrification savings on operational costs that can reach up to 60 per cent, while CO2 emission is also reduced. . The City of Breda uses the biogas from this plant to generate electricity.


15. Site Visit to N.V. Slibverwerking Noord-Brabant (SNB)

SNB operates the largest sludge incineration plant in the Netherlands. The company processes municipal sewage sludge of six shareholding water boards and sludge of various external clients. Sludge is a by-product of wastewater treatment plants. SNB, together with its partners, seeks innovative ways of contributing as much as possible towards an efficient wastewater value chain. This is done through research into the possibilities of recycling by-products. SNB works continuously on initiatives to recycle valuable raw materials from sludge. For example, SNB supplies its phosphate containing incineration ash for the production of fertilisers and other phosphate products. A neighbouring company uses carbon dioxide from the flue gas of SNB as a resource for the production of paper.


In November 2010, the shareholders approved the business plan of 2010-2015. In this plan, SNB has presented a clear vision about the processing of sewage sludge, and the realisation thereof.  SNB maintains three basic starting points for the processing of sewage sludge:


  • Sludge consists of nutrients, which are necessary to provide food to people. SNB seeks to recycle these nutrients and utilise them as much as possible. This contributes towards the sustainability of society;
  • There is energy present in sewage sludge. SNB converts this energy into electricity; and
  • Sewage sludge plays an important role as an absorbent of contaminants in wastewater. This prevents them from ending up in the surface water. SNB strives to prevent these contaminants from still ending up in the environment during the processing. It also constantly works towards the optimisation of sludge processing.

SNB also plays an active role in innovations in the wastewater value chain. According to SNB, this can only be achieved through close involvement with the water boards, and by consciously and actively initiating cooperation with all parties.

The wastewater value chain begins with the production of wastewater and ends with the final processing of sludge, including recycling of energy and the recycling of waste materials from sludge. All the separate segments of this chain have an influence on each other and need to be “geared” to one another to realise an efficient total wastewater value chain. Together with its partners, it is the aim of SNB to achieve the lowest possible costs in the wastewater chain. The purpose is to impose a minimal burden on the taxpayer with regard the total costs of wastewater treatment.

SNB aims to gain as much energy as possible out of sewage sludge, and when possible, recycle the raw materials present in sludge. Moreover, SNB aims to prevent the emission of any harmful elements into the environment. SNB strives for a sustainable processing of sewage sludge as it maintains that the sludge processing of today must not have any negative consequences on life in the future.


SNB collaborates with many national and international parties, within and outside the wastewater chain. Together with them, SNB strives for an efficient and sustainable wastewater chain. These are, among others, the Dutch Nutrient Platform, the Deutsche Phosphor-Plattform (DDP) and the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform. Moreover, SNB works with other sludge processors, on an individual basis and within the Vereniging Afvalbedrijven (Dutch Waste Management Association) and its German counterpart, the Deutsche Vereinigung für Wasserwirtschaft, Abwasser und Abfall (DWA).


Phosphate (P205) is one of most important raw materials for food production. The demand for phosphate is always on the increase. That is because of the increasing world population, the increase in meat consumption, and the growing of energy crops. These are crops grown for the production of biofuel.


15.1 Phosphate Recycling at SBN Plant

Phosphate (P205) is a compound of phosphorus and oxygen. Humans, as well as animals and plants, need phosphate in order to live. Humans and animals acquire phosphate through food, while plants get it from the ground. Phosphate compounds play an important role in the DNA of humans, and in the production of energy in humans, animals and plants. For example, the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is an important storage medium for energy in a human’s body. Phosphate stabilises the oxygen level in the blood. The largest quantity of phosphate is found in human bones and teeth.


15.1.1 The phosphate problem

It is clear that we need phosphate to prevent a food problem. However, Europe is strongly dependent on the import of phosphate. Almost the entire stock has to come from outside the continent. A resulting problem is that the available phosphate rock is becoming more and more contaminated, with other minerals such as cadmium and uranium. In the Netherlands, due to the high use of (artificial) fertilisers in the past years, there is an excess of phosphate in the soil and on surface water. Nonetheless, it can run out if not supplemented.


Recycling phosphate from sewage water is an efficient and environmentally friendly way of recycling phosphate. This can take place at various places, listed below, in the wastewater chain.


  • At the toilet, through decentralised sanitary (collecting urine separately);
  • At the wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), by letting the phosphate react into struvite; and
  • At the sludge incinerators, by recycling phosphate from the sludge incineration ashes.


SNB receives more than a quarter of the Dutch phosphate through its sewage sludge, and strives to recycle these essential raw materials on the basis of recycling phosphate via sludge incineration. This method has the highest returns. Scientific research shows that worldwide, around 14.9 million tons of phosphate rock is mined. By recycling phosphate through sludge treatment, 20 per cent of the worldwide demand for phosphate can be addressed.


16. IHE Delft


IHE Delft Institute for Water Education is the largest international graduate water education facility in the world and is based in Delft, Netherlands. The Institute confers fully accredited MSc degrees, and PhD degrees in collaboration with partners in the Netherlands. Since 1957, the Institute has provided graduate education to more than 15000 water professionals from over 160 countries.


IHE Delft is instrumental in the strengthening of efforts by other universities and research centres in increasing knowledge and skills of professionals working in the water sector. The knowledge and services of IHE Delft in human and institutional capacity-building are vital to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 6 (providing access to clean water and sanitation).


IHE Delft carries out three types of activities that complement and reinforce each other in the broad field of water engineering, water management, environment, sanitation, and governance. Its core activities are education, research, and capacity building, with additional functions including:


  • Offering education, training, and research;
  • Providing capacity development services, particularly for developing countries;
  • Setting up and managing international networks of educational and water sector institutions and organisations;
  • Serving as a policy forum for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Member States and other stakeholders;
  • Providing professional expertise and advice on water education; and
  • Playing a leadership role in international standard setting for postgraduate water education programmes and continuing professional education.


Subjects taught at the institute include:


  • Coastal engineering and port development;
  • Hydroinformatics - modelling and information systems for water management;
  • Flood Risk Management;
  • Urban Water Engineering and Management; and
  • Sanitation.


17.  Resolutions


In deliberating on the knowledge and information offered by the Dutch on water and sanitation issues -the Portfolio Committee highlighted the following key resolutions:


17.1. Training and Development


The Portfolio Committee resolved that AquaDactics provide capacity building for members of the committee in order to effectively conduct oversight. To this end, AquaDactics will design a training course for Members with a specific focus on empowering them with knowledge on water policy formulation and implementation (for example, overview of the national water master plan; overview of water and wastewater treatment; and evaluation of the implementation of water policies and strategies).




17.2. Memorandum of Understanding


 The Portfolio Committee resolved that the extension of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between South Africa and Netherlands on the cooperation in the field of water resources should be specific on capacity building activities to include, among others, training of wastewater operators, operation and maintenance technicians. Moreover, the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation should be briefed on the MoU before the signing event, and if possible, attend the signing event. In addition, the opportunities and or involvement of the Public Private Partnerships should be clearly articulated in the MoU in order to create opportunities and foster collaboration for both South Africa and Netherlands companies in the water sector. In this regard, the Department should provide a briefing on the Kingfisher Programme, which is a component of the current MoU.


17.3. Operation and Maintenance of wastewater Treatment Plants


The Portfolio Committee resolved that operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment should consider new technologies, which are cost and energy efficient, such as Nereda Wastewater Treatment Technology.


17.4. National Water Master Plan Workshop


The drafters of the Master Plan should facilitate a workshop that would assist Members of the Committee to understand the rationale for the master plan; and provides opportunity to members to strengthen the Master Plan where necessary.


17.5. Water Resources Management


There should be a clear maintenance plan for water resources such as dams and rivers. For instance, dredging should be prioritised over upgrades and building of new dams. In this regard, the Department should develop a maintenance and monitoring plan for the management of water resources.



Report for Consideration




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