Blantyre Water Board (BWB) says it sees solar power as a viable alternative to reduce high energy costs incurred in the running of its water pumping and treatment works using hydro electricity tapped through from the national grid.
BWB board chairperson James Naphambo, speaking after inspecting Yokohama Water Works Bureau’s Kosuzume Water Treatment Plant in Yokohama, Japan, alongside the board’s chief executive officer Daniel Chaweza, said on Wednesday he was impressed that the plant is solar-powered to treat and pump about 1.2 million litres of water per day to serve 3.5 million people in the supply area.
He said BWB is currently incurring high energy costs of hydro- powered power from the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) to treat and pump water for residents of the commercial capitaland the surrounding areas.
Said Naphambo: “This is impressive and we have learnt a lot to kick-start our own solar energy programme to pump and distribute water using solar energy.”
He also appreciated the relationship between BWB and Yokohama Water Works Bureau which includes an exchange programme on technical and capacity building which he said, is benefitting both organisations.
In his remarks, Yokohama Water Works Bureau director for international technical coordination Hiroshi Shiono said the plant was previously using hydro-powered energy to treat and pump water but high consumption costs prompted a switch to solar energy.
Kosuzume Water Treatment Plant is ranked among eight largest water plants in Japan with 18 sedimentation tanks, 60 filtration tanks and seven distribution reservoirs using solar energy of 1 040 kilowatts per day.
The relationship between BWB and Yokohama dates back to about 10 years and is often supported by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) which facilitates the exchange programme.
The visit to the water treatment plant is part of the BWB delegation’s activities on the sidelines of the 2018 World Water Congress and Exhibition currently underway in Tokyo, Japan.
This year’s commemoration is being held under the theme Shaping Our Water Future and has attracted water sector professionals from the public and private sectors and academia from across the world who are banging heads on how to improve water supply and achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number six on water and sanitation.
Besides BWB, Malawi’s four other water utilities—Lilongwe Water Board, Southern Region Water Board, Central Region Water Board and Northern Region Water Board—are also participating at the event which is scheduled to close this Friday. n