“Virtual reality, digital engineering tools, and meticulous attention to detail is helping Zutari upgrade an important wastewater treatment plant for the City of Cape Town,” says Mpho Ramphao, Water and Wastewater Engineer at Zutari.
The Zandvliet wastewater treatment works (WWTW) treats effluent from the southern parts of Kuils River, Delft, Blackheath, Blackheath Industria, Blue Downs, Eerste River, De Wijnlanden, Thembokwezi, Mxolisi Phetani, and Khayelitsha. The existing plant is overloaded, with equipment and pipelines failing. Urgent rehabilitation was required to meet the rising needs of the region and unlock development in one of the fastest-growing catchments in Cape Town.
In 2014, the City of Cape Town appointed Zutari to design and construct the new R1.7 billion WWTW to include state-of-the-art water purification technology. The current plant can treat 72 Ml/d of wastewater. Upon completion, which is scheduled for June 2023, the plant will be able to process an additional 18 Ml/d, bringing the total capacity to 90 Ml/d.
Using virtual reality
The highly technical nature of this project and the sheer number of stakeholders involved meant this was the perfect opportunity for visualisation of the designs. Zutari’s visualisation team created a virtual reality (VR) model that assisted stakeholders in determining how the new, intricate facilities should be approached. Some of the contractors involved found this so useful that they bought their own VR kits to explore the experiences developed by Zutari in their own offices.
Planning meticulously and laying out contingency plans
Construction of the new plant commenced in December 2018. Some of the challenges of the project included technical constraints arising from implementing an upgrade for a poorly functioning plant, as well as social and environmental challenges arising from discharging sewage into the lower Kuils River.
To overcome these challenges, the project team took to meticulous planning of changes and upgrades. Contingency plans and backup scenarios were laid out before any changes would be made. Adding capacity to an existing plant, where the pipelines range from 800 mm to 1.1 m in diameter, has led to a variety of digital engineering tools being used to drive the project forward.
Zutari has also been assisting the city by organising meetings with affected community members and providing up-to-date information on progress and interventions, even though not being appointed in an environmental or community stakeholder engagement capacity.
Most of the designs were done using 3D software, which made it easier for the large project team to streamline the design phase of the project. Zutari’s Unsigned Studio created a VR model to show the client and plant operators how the new plant will function once it has been built.
This visual tool enabled the client and plant operators to give input on the design and ensure that the new plant is optimised for their needs. Contractors on the project are also using the VR model to refine how their equipment needs to work on site and ensure they deliver solutions that are suitable for the client’s requirements.
“The highly technical nature of the project and the sheer number of stakeholders involved meant this was the perfect opportunity for visualisation of the designs to form the basis of design and construction decisions. We look forward to helping the city unlock development in the region thanks to a reliable supply of clean water,” said Mpho Ramphao, Zutari Expertise Leader – Water, Wastewater and Industrial Treatment.