South Africa is a water scarce country with an average annual rainfall of less than 60% of the world average. It is therefore important to encourage industries to minimise water consumption, and recycle and re-use water and effluent where possible. The South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is responsible for the management of water resources in South Africa, thereby ensuring the provision of adequate water supplies of acceptable quality for all recognised users. Of the industrial effluents produced in South Africa, textile effluents are considered to be one of the most problematic in the KwaZulu-Natal coastal area, especially in terms of colour, chemical oxygen demand (COD) and salinity (total dissolved solids, TDS). Of these, colour is perceived to be the most problematic as it is visual pollution and gives rise to public complaints. The Department has been actively involved, through negotiations with management and local authorities, in encouraging the textile industries to reduce the colour load discharged from the factories. Four case studies will be presented describing the approach taken by the Department to solve the problem of textile effluent discharge.

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