Darvill Waste Water Treatment Works Upgrade

A new standard for waste water treatment in South Africa

Combining waste water treatment with world class technology, we oversaw the construction of the upgrade of Darvill’s Waste Water Treatment Works – helping to future-proof their facilities.

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Darvill Waste Water Treatment Works Upgrade Project summary


Umgeni Water

Project value

900m ZAR (£46m)

Key partners

Hatch, Group Five Coastal

Services provided

Cost consultancy, Consult


Utilities, Energy and utilities


South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa

Project timeline

Start date
August 2014

Project story

Constructed in the mid-1950s with a design capacity for a population of 100,000 people, Darvill’s original Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) was a feat of spectacular engineering for the time. With steady increases in the hydraulic load, a 33% spike in the organic load in recent years and a population now of around half a million, this has placed a strain on the plant’s capacity to treat and remove nutrients effectively. Factoring in the Department of Water and Sanitation’s review of the WWTW’s effluent discharge and the reduction to the plant’s discharge limit for ammonia (NH3) since 2010, it was high time the facilities were upgraded.

The groundbreaking upgrades to the tertiary treatment, biological process, sludge digestion and disposal are allowing the plant to increase capacity for waste treatment, now and in the future, and are setting a new standard for South Africa and beyond.

project stats

800+ kW electricity will be generated from methane gas by-product from the plant
90% mechanical equipment imported from Germany, Spain, Canada and China
2 new digesters being installed, doubling the capacity

points of note

Evolving South Africa

With almost 90% of the mechanical technology being imported from around the world, an expert technical team was brought together for the professional services and specialist installations in order to deliver the ambitious and complex goals of the project. With much of the equipment arriving in South Africa for the very first time, our people and the wider project team were required to deliver innovative solutions to facilitate a safe and successful working environment.

Overcoming complex issues

The civil design team faced an intricate challenge from the poor ground conditions on site. This required further design reviews as deep excavations were not possible. While it represented a test for the engineers, it also dealt a potential blow for cost control and the overall budget. We overcame this challenge as our team is highly skilled at handling complex issues, so we implemented risk assessment protocols and an increased number of budget review meetings to mitigate these issues.

Managing costs

MMQSMace had a complex and challenging role managing the contractors, subcontractors and specialists to deliver this strategically important project within budget. We also balanced this with evaluation and strategic advice on costs, procurement and value engineering of site based expenditure. We have brought an agile and dynamic approach to ensure that we can successfully deliver this vital infrastructure upgrade.

Setting a new standard for Africa

This pioneering project will set the standard for waste water treatment technology in South Africa and, in turn, set the tone for the continent on a wider scale. With its innovative digesters, fine bubble diffused air aeration system, cogeneration facility and European standard effluent re-use demonstration plant, we delivered a project that’s recognisable on the international stage.

“This is a complex project and will deliver a crucial upgrade to the waste water treatment works, which will future-proof the plant for years to come. Close working with our project management and engineering partners has been crucial and we are working together to ensure that the project is delivered on time and on budget.”