Addressing the issues with the non-operating sewerage pumps in Maputo

Proposing environmentally sustainable improvements

Jesse Salet and Hidde Schijfsma

During the winter of  2015/2016 we had the opportunity to do a study on the sewage system of Maputo, Mozambique. It was an experience we will never forget. We learned a lot about Mozambique and about the (waste)water system over there. First of all we would like to thank the Marc van Eekeren travel fund for their contribution to our project. We would also like to thank Luuk Rietveld, André Marques Arsénio, Nelson Matsinhe and Noor Jehan Gulamussen for their support during our project.

The goal of our research was to analyze the issues of the municipal sewerage system of Maputo. The pumps are not operating for over eight years and at the moment all the wastewater (that is normally pumped to the WWTP) is now discharged into the bay. This causes extra pressure to the already heavily polluted bay of Maputo. Our goal was to find out the issue behind the non-operating pumps and investigate how the system can be restored or even improved to operate in a more sustainable way.

To gather all the necessary information people who know about the sewerage system in Maputo were consulted, and visual inspections have been done. With the gathered information we could conclude what the issues were behind the non-operating pumps. The problem had to do with an electrical meltdown which occurred in 2008. After this AIAS (governmental organization responsible for drinking water, sanitation and wastewater in Mozambique) was founded in 2009 and they replaced the pumps in 2013. We have reviewed the new pumps to see if they are suited for this particular situation and we concluded they are fine. In the time that the pumps did not operate and there was no pressure on the pressure line, the University of Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) connected the sewage line of a new building to the pressure line. AIAS discovered this when they wanted to test the pumps. The connection has already been removed, but the pressure line is not properly repaired. This pipeline should be repaired as soon as possible. The company that constructed the new building at the UEM-campus came up with a solution  to deal with the wastewater of the new building: treatment by septic tank and drain into the ground afterwards. The University agreed with this solution although they knew that this is not a solution on long term.

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