Field dilution studies were conducted on three “deep” water marine outfalls located along the South African coast to establish the comparibility of actual achievable initial dilutions against the theoretical predicted values and, where appropriate, to make recommendations regarding the applicability of the different prediction techniques in the design of future outfalls.

The physical processes along the 3000 km long coastline of South Africa are diverse, ranging from dynamic sub-tropical waters on the east coast to cold, stratified stagnant conditions on the west coast. Fourteen existing offshore marine outfalls serve medium to large industries and various local authorities (domestic effluent). For this investigation three outfalls were selected to represent the range of outfall types as well as the diversity of the physical conditions of the South African coastline.

The predicted dilutions, using various approaches, compared well with the measured dilutions. It was found that the application of more “simple” prediction techniques (using average current velocities and ambient densities) may be more practical, ensuring a conservative approach, in pre-feasibility studies, compared to the more detailed prediction models, which uses accurate field data (stratification and current profiles), when extensive field data is not readily available.

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