Stellenbosch University's (SU) efforts to mitigate the risk of day zero has resulted in a 45% reduction of water usage in 2019 when measured against the year 2015.
Since the implementation of a new grey water system, the institution is determined to reach a 63% water saving target, said John de Wet, Manager for Environmental Sustainability at the Facilities Management Division.
SU commissioned consulting engineers to conduct a water balance study. The study detailed the major sources of consumption across all campuses and as a result, a drought response plan was rolled out.
The response plan led to campus-wide campaigns such as '#watersmart' and the rollout of water efficiency equipment and measures such as showerheads, rainwater harvesting, the use of boreholes and the catching of groundwater.
According to De Wet, the institution was able to achieve these great results through the efforts of students who piloted a variety of water saving initiatives. “We must give credit to the students for their contribution to help us save water; without the students this huge reduction wouldn't have been possible," said De Wet.
He said students at Simonsberg and Eendrag residences actively collected shower water to use for flushing toilets and irrigation purposes.
De Wet said they worked way in advanced on the water crisis and the aim of the institution was to change systems by introducing grey water to flush toilets He said this will soon be carried out in both student residences and academic buildings.
Nadeem Gafieldien, Director for Property Services at SU, said these results show that people can stand together during a crisis.
“We are thankful to the Department of Higher Education and Training for recognising our water saving efforts as an institution and awarding us a R7 million grant in their sustainable infrastructure and efficiency category," said Gafieldien.
He said the goal was to have all the toilets at SU flushing with grey water to avoid another day zero.