Original Research

The evolution of South African wastewater effluent parameters and their regulation: A brief history of the drivers, institutions, needs and challenges

Kevin Wall
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 14, No 1 | a581 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v14i1.581 | © 2018 Kevin Wall | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 June 2018 | Published: 29 November 2018

About the author(s)

Kevin Wall, Department of Construction Economics, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Understanding the historical context of sanitation provision and wastewater disposal is essential to understanding its regulation. The aim of this article was to provide that context for South Africa, interweaving the story with social, institutional, policy and technological developments over more than two centuries. Given that so much was initially developed in Europe or encountered in Europe, it was subsequently adapted for use in South Africa. The article begins in earnest with the population disruptions which accompanied the Industrial Revolution, drawing parallels between the scale of these disruptions and the 20th- and 21st-century mass urbanisation in the developing world. Thereafter the article dealt exclusively with South Africa, highlighting the major reversal of policy in the mid-20th century, prior to which time wastewater could not be discharged to watercourses, whereafter treated wastewater could only be discharged to watercourses. The article then spelt out some key current regulations, especially with respect to the skills required, and some difficulties in applying the regulations.


South Africa; wastewater; regulation; history


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