Water and Wastewater Engineer

South Africa is a water scarce country, intensified by climate variation and extreme events such as drought and floods. Increasing demand, encroachment on ecological infrastructure and functioning and maintenance of the built infrastructure can compromise access to sufficient, clean water. Water and wastewater engineering ensure the design of water and wastewater systems to support ecological, economic and social needs and the sustainable management of water resources.

Water and wastewater engineers design and oversee projects involving the management, distribution, disposal and treatment of water. They conduct water quality and feasibility studies for the location and development of facilities such as water supply systems or water treatment plants, for example. They also design and perform analyses on the most effective equipment and processes needed for functioning water systems. Some can provide interventions and risk management for the provision of flood-related damage or drought contingency systems.

Water and wastewater engineers liaise with water quality and use specialists, urban and town planners and other engineers and specialists around water and wastewater management systems. They work in an office environment and often travel to project sites to monitor and direct operations or address on-site challenges.

Skills

Water and waste water engineers need a sound knowledge of engineering principles and an understanding of water and environmental regulations, processes and challenges, coupled with:

  • Critical problem-solving and analytical thinking ability  
  • Ability to design water and wastewater equipment and processes
  • Independent  project management competence
  • Good verbal and written communication and presentation skills

Tasks

Oversee the construction, operation and maintenance of water systems  

Design and develop equipment and projects around water management systems

Conduct impact studies related to water and wastewater collection, treatment or distribution

Provide technical direction and support around water engineering projects

Studies

B.Sc.Eng. in Civil Engineering specialising in Water Engineering at UCT, UKZN and Wits  

B.Eng. in Civil Engineering specialising in Water Engineering at SU, UJ and UP

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Civil Engineering at CPUT, CUT, DUT, MUT, TUT, UNISA, VUT and WSU

Employers

National, provincial and local government.  

Water utility companies.

Water treatment plants.

Research institutions.

NGOs, community-based and development organisations and private consultancies.

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