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South Campus sports fields are now irrigated with non-potable water after the completion of the first phase of a R20-million project involving water-saving on other campuses. 

This phase included the building of a holding pond and bulk water reticulation network around the sports fields area on South Campus, worth roughly R10-million.

This water will also be part of a trial project to provide water for the flushing of toilets and urinals at two residences on South Campus.  If the trial implementation is successful, the logical next step for implementation would be to look at all the residences on South Campus and even go as far as the Main Building.

Phase 2 and 3 will follow this year and next year, addressing irrigation and domestic use needs of North, South and Ocean Science campuses as well as the Sanlam Village.  The specific focus would be on high use areas, for example, the current and future residences.  The new residences are geared towards the usage of alternative water sources for the flushing of toilets and urinals.

“The existing system was never geared for large volumes of water and will need to be adapted.  But through this project, we are hoping to meet all the irrigation needs for all sports fields on both North and South Campus,” said Nelson Mandela University sustainability engineer Andre Hefer.

“The water will be purely for irrigation,” said Hefer.  In addition to saving potable water, the university will also be saving money. “Potable water costs around R18 per kilolitre, while return effluent water costs in the region of R2.20 per kilolitre.”

This project has also sparked the start of an investigation into the possible use of “new water” on campus, where return-effluent water is cleaned to a high-quality standard for domestic use and is safe to drink.

“Cities and towns like Windhoek in Namibia and Beaufort West already supplement their water supply with ‘new water’ to meet their water needs, and we might be in the same position Cape Town found itself in, pretty soon.”  Therefore, the use of return effluent to provide for basic needs is seen as a real answer to water source deficiency.

All these initiatives are being run by the university’s water task team, which includes management as well as academic and administrative staff, and is also running on-campus campaigns to encourage students and staff to use less water.

At the beginning of March, the major storage dams supplying the metro were at an average of 26.58 per cent of capacity.

Contact information
Dr Andre Hefer
Sustainability Engineer
Tel: 041 504 1456