Phase 1 of an overarching R20-million project to increase the amount of return-effluent water Nelson Mandela University uses to irrigate its sports fields is going ahead with completion expected by June 2019. This is one of several on-campus initiatives to save water.

The current project, worth R9-million and geared towards South Campus’s irrigation needs, brings the return effluent or “new water” to the sports fields from the Cape Recife Waste Water Treatment Works, says Andre Hefer, the University’s Sustainability Engineer.

The Cape Recife Waste Water Treatment Works already pumps around 30 kilolitres of return effluent water to the university each month, but this could soon be increased to around 900 kilolitres per week.

Phase 2/3, which is worth R11-million, will address North Campus’s irrigation requirements. The non-potable water needs of Sanlam Student Village (SSV) Residences and the Ocean Sciences Campus will also be addressed.

“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 R17 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, and the possibility of return-effluent water that could be cleaned to a high-quality standard for domestic use and is safe to drink.

“Cities like Windhoek in Namibia and Beaufort West already supplement their water supply with ‘new water’ to meet their cities’ water needs.”

The university has also researched the possibility of sinking boreholes on campus, with one being completed at Ocean Sciences. There is one existing borehole on North Campus, which is currently used for irrigation.

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

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