The impact of wastewater treatment effluent on Crocodile River quality in Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa




effluent, wastewater treatment plant, water quality, water quality index, water resources


Excessive discharge of poorly treated effluent has impacted global water resource systems intensely. The declining state of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is a significant source of pollution in water resources. There is evidence of water resource quality deterioration in natural environments caused by effluent discharges. We assessed the impact of wastewater treatment effluent on the quality of the Crocodile River. For spatial distribution, we collected data from three WWTPs discharging effluent into the Crocodile River and from three points situated downstream of each WWTP. Physicochemical and microbiological parameters such as pH, electrical conductivity, chemical oxygen demand, phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, and Escherichia coli were analysed using standard methods of the American Public Health Association. The water quality index was also calculated to give an overall indication of pollution within the catchment. The results show that WWTPs were not complying with the effluent standards set out in their water use licence. The WWTP effluent had a negative impact on downstream water quality, with the water quality index indicating low quality of discharged effluent. It is recommended that a regular and consistent water resource quality monitoring programme be implemented, particularly in areas where effluent discharges are prevalent.


In many African nations, water pollution is a serious problem that may be traced to a variety of sources. Surface water pollution has adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems and reduces the availability of clean water. In most semi-arid to dry southern African regions (e.g. South Africa), water scarcity is a significant concern. In these regions, water is a vital resource that must be protected at all times, given that the inadequate infrastructure of wastewater treatment facilities adds to the decline in South Africa’s water quality standards.


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How to Cite

Phungela, T. T., Maphanga, T., Chidi, B. S., Madonsela, B. S., & Shale, K. (2022). The impact of wastewater treatment effluent on Crocodile River quality in Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 118(7/8).



Research Article