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JG Afrika helps university achieve water security

JG Afrika

JG Afrika is working closely with experts from Stellenbosch University to develop a comprehensive demand-side management programme and water-sensitive urban design strategy for the campus.

There is a lot of innovation involved that relies extensively on academic research, while borrowing significantly from what is considered international best practice in the field of water management to develop unique recommendations. Chris Wise, a technical director at JG Afrika, says the project references robust relevant demand-side management programmes that have been so successful in conserving drinking water in Melbourne, Australia.

“We also researched and adopted suitable experience from Singapore, which views stormwater as an alternative water source. In so doing, the country adapts urban areas to capture, treat and reuse stormwater for ‘fit-for- purpose’ applications, rather than removing this resource from urban areas as quickly as possible,” Wise says.

State-of- the-art methods were also deployed to create a water balance; accurately identifying where water is being used on campus and then quantifying the demand for the resource in specific applications as part of the first phase of the programme.

Many of these approaches have been documented in an academic paper that is being prepared collaboratively by the University of Stellenbosch and JG Afrika. These include the installation of temperature sensors in a few of the facilities to measure shower durations and water warm-up time in two of the residences.

Analysis revealed that bathing and showering accounts for 25% of the total campus water use and 40% of residence use, and that significant savings could be achieved by installing water-saving showerheads.

JG Afrika is now undertaking the water-sensitive urban design aspect of the project to accurately identify and quantify opportunities to capture and use, or recycle as much of the water resource on campus.

Wise says that the objective is to try and “retain as much water on site for reuse”, and that there are many available options that are currently being investigated, including harnessing the facility’s stormwater runoff.

Large volumes of recycled water from other applications, such as shower water and laundry, may even be used for irrigation purposes, substituting water from an irrigation dam on site.

Wise is pleased with the progress made thus far and notes that the successes of the project can also be attributed to the hands-on approach adopted by the client.

For example, the new showerheads were installed at various facilities within two weeks of the team presenting its findings and motivating its solutions to the university during the very early phases of the project.

This client involvement played an essential role in the successful outcome of an extremely complex project, complementing JG Afrika’s own extensive experience in sustainable engineering and business ‘greening’, he concludes.

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