Blackwater and Blackouts. What really goes on when the lights go off.
When things don't get maintained, serviced and repaired, random failures occur. And it goes something like this
Worker "Sir, we need to do some routine maintenance. The bearings, belts and hoses need replacing, and maintenance manuals say its time to shut down the plant"
Sir - " What's wrong with the bearings, belts and hoses?"
Worker "err, nothing. But we need to replace them anyway. The book says so."
" Nah, they working just fine. We will replace them when they break. Anyway, the book says lots of stuff that doesn't apply anymore. Bearings and belts are made better these days. And last longer. Just keep the plant working, and let me know when you hear any noises. . . ."
This is load-shedding (blackouts, to be ruthless and unkind), and we can't cook, do laundry, watch TV, even listen to the radio, when the lights go out.
But, we still generate black-water (the stinky part of sewage). Flushing the loo happens with or without lights. In fact, studies show that more water is flushed during lights out, and less of the laundry (grey), cooking water - which makes sense. But where does it go?
Well, down the sewer pipes, into the electric pump-station. From there, perhaps into another electric pump station, then onto the head of municipal sewer works. There, the foul water gets settled out, along with sand, rags, stones, dead pet hamsters, kid's shoe (only one got flushed), passports, drivers licenses, ID books and a little cocaine. The "screened" sewage then gets processed in a variety of ways, being pumped, aerated, settled, decanted, and then disinfected. All using . . . . .electricity!
Without electricity, pump-stations overflow, and sewage never reaches the sewage works. But if it did, it would overflow at the head of works, inclusive of sand, rags, condoms, wet-wipes, deceased hamsters, and a little cocaine. No settling, straining, aerating, decanting or disinfection takes place. And this happens the moment power is cut.
Sewage treatment plants are different? Yip, very much so. Whilst very few electricity-free sewage treatment systems are true treatment systems (and not just wannabe septic tanks), the better systems are driven by electricity. And the same systems will have, where possible, added capacity to handle the 2 / 3 hours of blackouts. And the really great sewage treatment systems will start up, in the same biological conditions, as before the power went off.
So, domestic sewage treatment systems / package plants, will save us from Eskom? Nope, Eskom is beyond saving by anyone. But these solutions will save household wastewater from polluting our gardens, rivers, and the neighbour's borehole. The "green" homeowners will then have the peace of mind that not only are they diverting the faded responsibility from Eskom, but actually creating health and wealth, at home, and the community. And then they can recycle the water for their lawns, flower beds, washing the SUV - even the dog can drink it.
Choosing a good on-site sewerage system is important, since it must perform. There are a number of great products out there on the market, but none as outstanding as multiple international award winning, tested and endorsed by Umgeni Water, acknowledged by professionals, and admired by competitors. Now, that's Scarab! Plan ahead - Eskom ain't going to get better.
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