A pioneering project for Livingstone aims to harvest a non-native invasive plant, the water hyacinth, from Livingstone sewage works where it flourishes, to produce commercial biogass.
As part of the Energy and Environment Partnership Programme (EEP) for Southern and East Africa, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland, the pilot project in Livingstone, southern Zambia, will use water hyacinth plants for biogas production on a commercial basis, as well as producing fertiliser as a by-product. The project aims to serve up to four local tourism hotels with green energy, as well as a model domestic scheme. The water hyacinths biomass will be harvested from the wastewater treatment ponds on a regular basis. Waste sludge produced will be used to support a small banana plantation on the site.
The invasive plant, native to South America, is detrimental to the local ecology when it escapes into natural areas, growing in dense rafts, and is extremely difficult to eradicate. The Livingstone Sewage Works suffers from an infestation of the plant which affects its operational efficiency. The project hopes to alleviate the environmental threat of untreated sewage water discharging into the Zambezi River, and also the water hyacinth escaping into the river, just above the world heritage site of Victoria Falls. The sewage works have struggled to cope with the recent growth of Livingstone town and is sceduled for expansion work.
The company Livingfalls BioPower Ltd. has been created as a vehicle for building and operating the project for Southern Water and Sewerage Company in Livingstone.