The waters of life at Deetlefs Estate

Tuesday, 30 March, 2004
Lesley Beake
The first biological wastewater treatment plant in South Africa

It takes a lot of water to make wine ... water that used to vanish without trace down a plughole or simply back into the ground.

In keeping with Government regulations, through the Department of Water Affairs & Forestry (DWAF) and in line with the requirements of the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) policy, wine producers are required to produce a strategic wastewater plan.

A producer who has embraced this responsibility with enthusiasm is Kobus Deetlefs of Deetlefs Estate in Rawsonville. A specialist soil and environmental scientist and a chemical engineer were contracted to ensure that the winery development plan – including the proposals for wastewater management – was acceptable to the DWAF.

A local company (Effluent Management (Pty) Ltd) designed and constructed the treatment plant, which is the first biological wastewater treatment plant in South Africa. For those of a technical nature the process is described as follows:

‘The wastewater is treated by total oxidation employing the extended aeration principle of the activated sludge process. The treatment process is subjected to Sequence Batch Reactor technology, thus guaranteeing the required flexibility to ensure the maximum biodegradation of organic pollutants is achieved. A slow speed turbine aerator has been selected to provide the oxygen input at the optimum energy density and the biological treatment process is fully automated.’

This process is ongoing, in busy times like harvest and in a sustained manner during the quieter, off-peak periods – and made even more effective through the use of environmentally friendly cleaning agents. Labour costs are kept to a minimum by the very specific technology employed in this first fully-fledged biological wastewater treatment plant in South Africa.

Government regulations on the matter of treated winery wastewater are stringent and the process of rehabilitated it is complicated. But the end result is incredibly precious, water that is entirely suitable for re-use in the vineyards through irrigation.

Water (back) into wine; a very neat – and environmentally sound – conclusion.

For further information, please contact:
Deetlefs Wine Estate
Tel: +27 (0) 23 349-1260

Effluent Management (PTY) Ltd
Contact: E. Buntman
Tel: +27 (0) 23 355-1712