Alternative Medium-term Water Solutions for Gqeberha Campuses

By Communication and Marketing

“We cannot think short term anymore. Our campuses will face drought again. Whatever planning and funding is allocated, we will endeavour to ensure business continuity and water security going forward.”

That’s the word of Nelson Mandela University’s Sustainability Engineer, Dr Andre Hefer about ensuring sustainability.

The institution’s Infrastructure and Space Optimisation team is busy with Phase 2 of its water support strategy – by installing water provision systems due to be complete by the end of August.

The third phase – the long-term water provision planning – will kick in thereafter.

Current actions include the locking of certain ablutions, continuous risk assessment of the breakages of pumps and water pipes and ongoing scrutiny of water leaks and taps being left to run.

Dr Hefer says the University needs to be constantly vigilant for ongoing bouts of low water pressure and intermittent disruptions.

The new installations or systems need to be ready for when the University decides to switch from the current municipal water supply to the University’s alternative sources – that of borehole and reclaimed water.

Work is presently underway on North Campus, before moving to Second Avenue and Ocean campuses and finally to South Campus.

South Campus comes with the biggest challenge in terms of diverse water supply systems, and the largest number of people – 10 000 students and staff during term time, as well 1 000 students in residences. This could equate to water usage of about 600 000 litres daily.

Missionvale Campus

Missionvale Campus is fortunately connected to the Nooitgedacht water scheme and therefore is at a very low risk of not having water. A back-up system of 20 tanks with a capacity of 100 000 litres has already been installed there.

Bird Street Campus

Very few staff and students are located at Bird Street Campus, and so two 5000 litre tanks will be installed to meet water needs there.

Water tanks

The tanks installed last year will serve as backup supply to South Campus residences (48), South Campus Sport Centre (16), and South and North campus Student Health Service clinics and kitchens (10).

Unfortunately, catching the run-off water from campus building roofs into tanks, as is done with residential houses, is not a viable option as the supply will be inadequate. In addition, the quality and consistency of such a supply is not suitable.

Planning and installation

The following is underway:

  • North Campus has access to three boreholes for non-potable (not suitable for drinking) water, which will be connected to our campus reticulation (taps and toilets), for cleaning purposes and for flushing toilets. Investigations are underway to see if the University will be able to include water for showers in residences.

The oldest borehole, which was originally sunk for irrigation, will be tested for its water volume and quality in supplying the bulk of the academic and administration buildings and residences on the campus. The Hector Pieterson residence’s swimming pool will be used as reservoir for this installation.

One of two new boreholes is already connected to the 800-bed residence forming part of the Sanlam Village. Sol Plaatje residence will also shortly be connected for flushing toilets. The other borehole to be connected will serve the new 1000-bed residence being built at the entrance to North Campus.

  • On Second Avenue Campus thecurrent borehole will be tested for sustainable yield and quality of water ahead of its connection to the existing water reticulation system.
  • Ocean Sciences Campus has fewer students and staff, therefore the borehole connected to Sol Plaatje and the new 800-bed residence, will be connected to the campus water reticulation system and stored in the four, 5000 litres tanks before being pumped onto this campus.
  • South Campus’ water supply will be linked to filtered and chlorinated reclaimed water from the 1,4 megalitre return effluent reservoir next to Marine Drive, opposite the Sport Centre. The reservoir and pump station were installed a few years ago for irrigation of the sport fields. This system is being upgraded to allow for an improved water supply through filtration and chlorination to support future supply for flushing of toilets, cleaning, and firefighting.

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