SANDF’s Combat Team Alpha purifying its own water in Mozambique

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Due to a lack of infrastructure at its base in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) Combat Team Alpha is purifying its own water on an almost industrial scale.

Lieutenant Commander Nombuso Mhlongo reported this week that the SANDF’s Engineering component is supplying the Mihluri Base in Macomia with purified water to fulfil the demands of Combat Team Alpha (CTA) deployed as part of the SADC Mission in Mozambique.

On a daily basis Combat Team Alpha requires 30 000 litres for basic living purposes, and this includes water for cooking, washing, building and maintenance of the base. The process starts early in the morning with a team of three fetching water from a river/stream a few kilometres from the base. At the base, another team of three members is ready to start the process of converting the unclean water to clean useable water.

of Corporal Wisani Malukeke explained that they start by pumping the water from a 40 000 litre storage tank to 10 000 litre s-tanks, for the sedimentation process to start. Suspended solid particles are removed from the water in this step.

The raw water’s pH level is tested to determine if the water is acidic or alkaline. It is adjusted with either soda ash or hydrochloric acid as necessary.

After sedimentation, the water is filtered, with solid particles removed. Another test determines how much chlorine needs to be added, and the water is tested for smell, colour, taste and pH.

The water is then ready to be used by the members of Combat Team Alpha for various purposes. Water bunkers are placed around the base for members to have easy access.

The SANDF has over the years upgraded its water purification systems and a new mobile system to purify and bottle water officially handed over to the SA Army in March 2021. This is believed to be Project Blesbok for a Water Provisioning System (WPS). In May 2011, the South African Army awarded black empowerment company Malutsa a contract for custom mobile water purification plants to replace legacy systems and which are able to purify all types of ground water as well as sea water. The contract includes collapsible water tanks, water transfer pumps, water extraction systems, Water Bottling Plants, Water Sachet Plants and Mobile Water Purification Systems.