The Integrated Algal Ponding System (IAPS) pilot project was initiated in June 2016 in the rural town of Barberton in Mbombela Local Municipality in Mpumalanga. The project focused on creating a demonstration-scale wastewater treatment works, while also creating a viable platform to launch sustainable food security and job creation in vulnerable communities. IAPS systems can be linked to existing sanitation infrastructure, and are usually designed, constructed and established within 18 months. 


The objective of the project is to look at the quality of the effluent that comes from the plant (reducing environmental pollution), and the possibility of harvesting methane gas, which we can be used to generate electricity to run some components of the plant.


The community focus of this project ensures that sustainable and financially viable small-scale production systems are established, to provide clean water, energy, and the resources to drive food security at affordable prices.  This allows communities to earn income from agriculture/horticulture. 


The IAPS research and development process received a contribution from the Mbombela Local Municipality in the form of land, access, security, and the provision of electricity. An environmental impact assessment must be completed and environmental approval obtained prior to construction. Memoranda of understanding between the installer and the relevant municipality are signed regarding the supply of technology, process design and optimisation, monitoring, operator training and technology transfer to customers.


A key aspect of the IAPS is the production of renewable energies.  Escalating energy demand has an effect on the global climate, so the production of biogas and biomass through the IAPS is an opportunity to provide renewable sources of energy for communities.  Harvesting methane from the wastewater treatment works can be used for geysers in the plants, and for lighting, the consumption of energy from other sources will be dramatically reduced. 


The project will end in March 2018.


Implementing agent

Water Research Commission

012 761 9300