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List of National collaborators

  1. EWS: eThekwini municipality – EWS water and sanitation department
  2. Umgeni Water
  3. CSIR: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
  4. NICD: National Institute for Communicable Diseases
  5. SALGA: South African Local Government Association
  6. ARC: Agricultural Research Council


National Funding Agencies

National projects

Wastewater-Based Epidemiology for COVID-19 Detection (2020-2021) / Water Research Commission (WRC) “Advance Molecular Method For The Detection And Quantification Of Sars-Coronavirus-2 In Wastewater And Sanitation Environments” (2020-2022)


Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has gained traction as a cost-effective approach, complementary to the expensive, conventional clinical-based surveillance and screening. An optimized method for the detection and quantification of SARSCoV-2 virus in wastewater using an advanced droplet digital PCR platform has been established. The findings from this study, which is still ongoing, indicates that WBE is a useful tool for monitoring COVID-19 infections. Wastewater-based epidemiology could significantly improve health authorities’ preparedness by serving as an early warning, as observed prior to the second and third infection waves in the province. We have contributed to the establishment of the South African Collaboration COVID-19 Environmental Surveillance System (SACCESS) and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the detection and quantification of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater using droplet digital PCR prepared and shared with partners/ stakeholders. Funded by Umgeni


We are working closely with the local national government to monitor the progression of the diseases and informing the relevant authorise of increase in cases before they manifest clinically. Over the last one month we have received substantial press coverage on the application of the technology as an early warning system for monitoring the progression of the disease. We are leading nationally in this field.

WRC, “Up-scaling Partial Nitritation-Anammox (PN/A) Process for the Treatment of Anaerobic Sludge Digestor Effluent-A Pilot-Scale Study” (2020-2023)


Development of a sustainable and efficient nitrogen removal process for the wastewater sector process has been identified as a low-cost alternative process of nitrogen removal from wastewater. Therefore, this technology has the potential to address the energy deficit being created by the over 1000 activated sludge systems currently in use nationwide and alleviate the energy burden created by wastewater treatment on the already stressed national grid. The development of a functional pilot-scale, side stream PN/A process locally has the potential for a scale-up of the developed technology, targeting high-strength industrial wastewater streams. The project encompasses human resource capacity development in novel and specialized technology. The project will also facilitate scientific collaboration between the local municipality (eThekwini) and DUT in developing anammox technology for the South African water sector


It is the only project at scale in the country evaluating ANAMMOX technology for efficient nitrogen removal from wastewater. Findings will inform the roll-out of the technology at other wastewater treatment plants.


KZNEDTEA (2019-current)

KZN EDTEA project “Enhanced aquaculture feed” (2019-2021)


The aquaculture industry is one of the fastest-growing food sectors in the world. The industry is now facing a huge challenge to provide quality feed to fish. Microalgae have great potential as an important fish feed ingredient and many advantages such as grow throughout the year and contain proteins, oil, carbohydrates, vitamins and pigments. Research conducted at IWWT showed that microalgae Scenedesmus obliquus could be successfully used as a protein source in Tilapia feed to enhance growth and morphological characteristics.


The project can create to a new industry. Application of microalgae supplement feed will provide new business opportunities to farmers and fish feed producers, and it has the potential for local communities to partake in the aquaculture industry. In the future, pilots scale algae cultivation ponds can be set up for small localities and villages, which could be a source of income. Furthermore, fish consumption with a better nutritional profile (omega fatty acids, antioxidants, etc.) will help to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases in South Africa. The aquaculture industry in South Africa will be the principal beneficiary of the offerings, which will contribute significantly to the gross domestic product of South Africa.

WRC, “Beneficiation of Waste Streams for Nutrient Recovery Using Algal Systems (2019-2021)

The project seeks to convert a waste problem into an environmentally friendly sustainable nutrient recovery and redistribution system. The recovery of nutrients from wastewaters by microalgae and the use of its biomass as a biofertilizer seem to provide a promising alternative, an environmentally friendly solution to chemical fertilisers. The nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from wastewater can be used to grow microalgae, and can be recycled, promoting the simultaneous polishing treatment of the effluent and the production of biomass. The project’s research has shown that algal biofertilizers improve soil conditions, increasing crop yields and nutrient efficiency and reducing the requirements for chemical fertilisers.


The project has direct impact on the circular economy and obtaining value from waste. The project is currently  been investigated at large-scale. Potential application by the water sector is high.

Umgeni, “Decolourization Efficiencies of Dyes, Nutrients and Metals Removal in Mpofana Wastewater using Vetiveria zizanioides, Phragimites australis and Typha capensis” (2019-2021).

Mpofana wastewater treatment works (WWTW) situated in Mooi River, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa is owned by Umgungudlovu District municipality and operated by Umgeni water. The WWTW is an extended aeration-activated sludge process and receive both domestic and industrial (textile industry) effluent. The design capacity of the treatment works is 3.5 ML/day, however, it is currently operating almost 3-fold over its design capacity (9.0 ML/day).  As a result, the treatment plant is facing challenges in meeting the effluent discharge standards. Furthermore, the WWTW fails to deal with textile effluent which has azo dyes present as it was designed only to deal with domestic effluent. This project, therefore, is aimed at finding innovative, efficient and cost-effective measures to assist the Mpofana WWTW in polishing the final effluent to meet the effluent discharge standards.


This project further enforces the collaboration between IWWT and water utility (Umgeni Water), and focuses on optimization of alternative cheaper and efficient technology for the treatment of wastewater. Potential for large-scale application is high.

Wastewater Reuse and Public Perception

Wastewater reuse without doubt can be a key strategy in the conservation of water resources and a significant solution to today’s global water challenges. However, public acceptance is the foremost threat for the successful implementation of reuse projects. Therefore, this project will investigate the public perception of water reuse and will further evaluate challenges and strategies for the application of water reuse in the public domain. The project will investigate the underlining factors that can be a potential barrier in the successful implementation of wastewater reuse.


Due to South Africa being a water-scarce country wastewater reuse would become the norm rather than the exception. We are working closely with water utilities (Umgeni Water) and municipalities (eThekwini)  to optimize the technology for local application.  A framework of strategic recommendations will be developed from the findings that can help local water service providers to effectively communicate with the public regarding wastewater reuse. The study outcomes and strategy can be implemented at the local level, as well as extended lessons can be supportive at national level to establish wastewater reuse schemes in the country. Holistically, the study will aid in the planning and implementation of the wastewater reuse as an alternative water resource in South Africa.

Analysis of Water Demand Management: Case Study of Urban Household Water Use Behaviour in Kwa-Zulu Natal

This study aims to investigate the behaviour of urban households in five suburbs within the eThekwini metropolitan municipality area in Kwa Zulu Natal towards water consumption to find ways in which domestic demand for water may be reduced. These finding will advance our understanding of household water use and water wise behaviour in KZN by evaluating perceived water use in different dwelling types (houses, flats, informal settlements). It also seeks to collate individual perceptions on the most effective water-wise behaviour as well as the main drivers influencing behavioural change. Additionally, it aims to identify past or existing municipality-specific water-wise interventions and assess the influence different socio-economic demographics have on changing water use behaviour. Overall, the study is aimed at improving water security interventions in KZN through further advancing an understanding of the water user at household level.


Project has direct relevance to water conservation and instilling behavioural changes to reduce water demand and prevent waste age of this valuable resource, as South Africa is a water scarce country. This will also allow the province to plan in the case of water shortage (day zero) and mitigate climate change events.

Genetic diversity and development of a rapid molecular detection method for protozoan parasites in raw and treated wastewater

The aim of this study was to assess the genetic diversity of protozoan parasite in wastewater from selected countries in Africa and to develop a rapid invitro detection technique for human pathogenic protozoan parasites from wastewater samples. We successfully established for the first time a cost-effective, rapid, sensitive, and specific colorimetric LAMP assay and a quantitative fluorescent real-time LAMP assay for protozoan parasites in water and wastewater, with a focus on Cryptosporidium and Giardia.


The project can be considered as cutting-edge technology for the detection of pathogens in water and wastewater. Our team can be considered as globally leading in the field. The current collaboration is with CALTECH, USA


International Projects (Externally funded)

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) Network University, ITG Thematic Area: Water Resources and Pollution Treatment (2018-2021)

The BRICS Network University (BRICS-NU) is a network of BRICS member countries of higher education institutions including (Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, National Institute of Technology (NIT), Durgapur, India, Hohai University, China, North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power, China and Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia engaged in corporation of educational projects including postgraduate training programs.

European Water Joint Programming Initiative, (Water JPI), “Micro and Nanoplastics as Carriers for the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance in the Aquatic Environment Nano-Carriers” (2018-2022)


Water contamination by micro and nanoplastics (MNP) emerges as a fundamental problem directly undermining the fulfillment of several SDGs those concerned with clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), health (SDG 3) and sustainable management of waste in the context of sustainable cities (SDG 11). This project involves collaboration between four countries viz., South Africa (DUT), Norway (NIWR), Cyprus (UC) and France (RU).  The primary aim of this joint programme initiative is to combine the resources, infrastructures, and strengths of multiple countries to facilitate innovative research projects and to develop strategies to monitor the emerging contaminants in the aquatic environment


This project proposes to address the challenges caused by outbreaks related to the occurrence and microbial association of these microplastics in selected full-scale WWTPs of South Africa. The first significant impact of the project is a methodology for the detection and isolation of microplastics from organic-rich environments such as wastewater and sludge. Additionally, the project is expected to provide information on the occurrence and characteristics of microplastics in wastewater and help to determine the efficiency of wastewater treatment systems in Kwa Zulu-Natal in the removal of microplastics. Finally, it will provide information on the potential of microplastics as carriers of pathogens and antibiotic-resistant genes in the aquatic environment.


International Funding Agencies

(Japan International Cooperation Agency)

JICA- SATREPS, “Production of biofuels using algal biomass”  (2016-2021)


The objectives of the joint research is to investigate and recommend a solution to; a) increased algal lipid accumulation, b) harvesting, c) extraction of oil, (d) tertiary treatment of domestic wastewater effluent and (e) develop biofuel business in South Africa. DUT is conducting a research at Kingsburgh WWTW in eThekwini Municipality on cultivating algae using wastewater as a substrate at demonstration scale (300 000 L).


Project is a collaboration between DUT, eThekwini Municipality, Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) {SA} and Nagoya University and Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology {Japan}, financial support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), JST and DSI. It is one of the projects to have reached demonstration In Africa scale focusing of algae biomass. propagation and wastewater beneficiation. Currently, we are busy with a tech-economic evaluation with focus on large-scale national roll-out. We are leading in the field internationally.

Orange Knowledge Program (OKP), “Bridging the Water: Co-create to Learn & Experience” (2019- 2021)


The project aims at embedding an action-learning and co-creating approach in the form of living labs for students, innovators of universities and municipalities and practical training of staff. The living lab program creates an interface between applied research and education in the water sector. Additionally, the living lab program also provides students and professionals with the necessary skills and insights in new technological advancements. By sustainably bridging the gaps between theory and practice in the South African water sector, the project will lead to better water management, improved water services and livelihood improvement in South African municipalities.


The training of professionals in the water sector is paramount to this project. To date there has been 282 South African municipal staff trained nationally in wastewater and drinking water courses.  Eight living Labs with a total of 115 students participating (54 Dutch, 50 SA, 11 other). SALGA is currently in the process of engaging various stakeholders to assist in the dissemination process of the outcomes of the on-the-job trainings and the outcomes of the living labs. A digital Anammox Masterclass was successfully delivered in October 2020 with 60 participants (39 SA, 17 Dutch, 4 Other countries). There is another masterclass in the plans for 2021 as a result from the positive response from local municipalities. The results from the living labs are currently being explored for the potential for business development in the OKP context with a lifelong learning policy for implementation to EWS, CCT and SALGA underway.




  • Water quality analysis and modeling
  • Troubleshooting in full-scale wastewater treatment processes
  • Microbial contribution to Biological nutrient removal in activated sludge systems
  • Elucidation of filamentous bulking and remedial measures
  • Evaluation of constructed wetlands for wastewater and storm-water treatment
  • Microbial population dynamics in anaerobic processes treating wastewater
  • Anammox and Partial Nitrification for cost-effective biological nitrogen removal
  • The potential of microplastics as carriers for pathogenic and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in water and wastewater systems
  • Personal care and pharmaceutical chemical products including perfluoroalkyl compounds linked to endocrine disruption
  • The Amoeba in wastewater treatment and their link to the transfer of antibiotic resistance in bacteria
  • The removal of antibiotics and their metabolites by microalgae in wastewater treatment
  • Bioprospecting microalgae and cyanobacteria
  • Large scale cultivation
  • Biofuels and high-value products
  • Aquaculture
  • Wastewater reuse and Health.
  • The occurrence of emerging pathogens and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in wastewater and surface water.
  • Surface water pollution and health





1. Micro and Nano Plastics in wastewater (2019-2021)

Collaborators: University of Cyprus, Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Rennes University


2. ‘Bridging the water’ Orange Knowledge Institutional Collaboration Project (2019-2021)

The project aims at embedding an action-learning and co-creating approach in the form of living labs for students, innovators of university and municipalities and practical training of staff. Sustainably strengthening the South African Water Education & Training Capacity.


3. Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development Project (2016-2021)

SATREPS Project “Production of biofuels using algal biomass” a joint collaboration between South Africa: DUT, eThekwini Municipality, Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and Japan (Nagoya University and Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology) with financial support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), JST and DST.


4. BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Network University (2016- 2019)

BRICS-NU mission is to establish strong partnerships and scientific links between BRICS member countries, focusing on challenges and opportunities in water resource management and pollution treatment. University International Thematic Groups (ITGs), is a consortium of representatives, from BRICS Countries, engaged in “Water Resources and Pollution Treatment”.


5. Global Water Microbiome(GWMC) initiative. (2014-2021)

Joint project with the University of Oklahoma (USA) and 110  from 23 countries.

6. EBPR Microbial Observatory 2017

Lead collaborators: Aalborg University, Denmark

The overall aim is to develop a taxonomic database curated for abundant phylotypes for biological nutrient removal plants and anaerobic digesters.






  • Egypt/ South Africa 2011-2013 – “ Enhanced effect of magnetic nanoparticles for bio-hydrogen production from organic waste via pilot-scale ABR
  • India/South Africa 2011-2014 “Chloroplast genome sequencing of biodiesel producing microalgae strains from extreme climates in India and South Africa
  • Algeria/South Africa 2013-2015 “Determining the suitability of using wastewater as a substrate for algal propagation”
  • China/South Africa 2015-2017 “Anammox Reactor: Design, enrichment and application for treatment of ammonia-rich wastewater”
  • India/Brazil/South Africa (IBSA) 2014-2017 “Evaluation and optimization of biodiesel production from microalgae”
  • Oman/South Africa 2018-2020- “Bioprospecting of microalgae from extreme habitats for novel compounds of commercial interest”



  • Italy CNR Water research institute, – Dr Simona Rosetti
  • Italy Italian National Research Council- Water Research Institute – Prof ValterTandoi
  • University of Aalborg, Denmark – Prof. Per Nielsen
  • Egypt Japan University of Science and Technology – Dr Ahmed Tawfik
  • Columbia University – Dr Karthik Chandran
  • Georgia State University – Dr Manjinder Singh
  • University of Bologna (CIRSA) – Prof. Andrea Contin
  • Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) – Prof Hee-Sik Kim
  • Chemical & Petrochemical, Chemical & Fertilizer Ministry, Government of India-Dr Rohit Misra
  • Oklahoma University, USA-Prof Jizhong Zhou
  • Nagoya university, Japan- Prof Hideki Kanda
  • Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan-Prof Siaw Onwona Agyeman
  • Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), India – Prof. Yogesh C Sharma
  • Federal university of Piaui, Brazil- Prof Carla VR de Moura
  • Tongji University, China- Prof Jian Hua Li
  • Central University of Jharkhand, India-Dr Bhaskar Singh
  • Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India-Dr Sanjay Kumar Gupta
  • Technische Universiteit Delft, Netherlands – Dr Luuk Rietveld
  • World Water Academy (WWA), Netherlands – Mrs Agnes Maenhout
  • Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil – Prof. Nilo de Oliveira Nascimento
  • Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Prof. Otto Corrêa Rotunno Filho
  • National Institute of Technology (NIT), Durgapur, India – Prof. Supriya Pal
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, India –Prof. Vinod Tare 
  • Hohai University, China – Prof. Yiping Li
  • North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power, China – Prof. Shenji Li
  • Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia – Dr Evgeniya Soldatova
  • Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia – Dr Natalia Guseva



  • University of Stellenbosch: Water Research Commission- Constructed Wetlands
  • University of Pretoria: Water Research Commission- Constructed Wetlands
  • UKZN- Biochemistry: Algal oil production
  • UKZN- Pollution Research Group: Evaluation of full-scale Membrane Bioreactor
  • CSIR: Algae related projects/Wastewater Reuse
  • CPUT: Wastewater treatment
  • UCT: Algal Biofuels



  • Water Research Commission (1996-current)
  • Technology Innovation Agency (2015-current)
  • TIA Seed funding (4 projects)
  • Department of Science and Technology (2016-current)
  • KZNEDTEA (2019-current)
  • Department of Higher Education and Training (2017-current)
  • Brics networks University lead organization
  • eThekwini Municipality (2010-current)



  • Japan International Cooperation Agency
  • NUFFIC Netherlands
  • BRICS Network University
  • SEI
  • Bill and Melinda Gates