Nelson Mandela University is investigating the possibility of installing electronic water meters on campus, to accurately track how its water is being used, to identify areas of high water usage, and to ensure any leaks or burst pipes are picked up rapidly.

“We want to make sure that there is a balance between what is coming into our system, and what is being used, so we can prevent water being wasted,” said the university’s sustainability engineer Andre Hefer.

“Ultimately, our plan is for every building on campus to be metered.”

Hefer said the university was in talks with the municipality’s Maintenance Services Department regarding the meter installations. The initial plan is for water meters to be installed on the main water supplies of five of the university’s campuses – providing real-time remote data about each campus’s water usage – with meters installed on campus buildings at a later stage.

The initial five meters will be installed on South, North, Missionvale, Ocean Sciences and Second Avenue campuses.

“This would have a very high impact as far as our water-saving initiatives are concerned,” said Hefer.

Hefer said the university had already been tracking water usage on certain areas of campus to identity high use areas.

“In relation to our sports fields and residences, we are generally good water users, but we can still save more.”

Hefer said the meters would only be looking at municipal potable water usage – and not other water sources, such as boreholes or reclaimed water, which the university is also investigating.