Students living on the Stellenbosch University (SU) residences are the first beneficiaries of an innovative automated grey water system.
SU, through its Facilities Management Division, has implemented this automated grey water system, which collects shower water at campus residences, treats it and sends it back into the system to be used to flush toilets.
This system has been rolled out to residences, and will later be introduced to academic buildings on the Stellenbosch campus.
The grey water plant has been running for a month, and has already recorded a 35% reduction in the use of water as well as a reduction in energy used to heat up water for showers.
Nadeem Gafieldien, Director of Property Services at the Facilities Management Division, says they have also started to collect ground water from the SU Library, which is transferred to the plant to be treated and re-used.
“We used to drain that water and throw it away, now we transfer it to the plant and it is treated and used in the residences," he says.
Gafieldien says a similar system is being developed for SU's Tygerberg campus and should be operational by the end of the year.
Although the planning for the project started back in 2015, Gafieldien says it took them one year to complete the work. “This is something new for the municipality and as expected there were a few valid concerns which resulted in the process taking longer than we expected."
Gafieldien adds that concerns have resulted in them getting a new colour pipe to distinguish between fresh drinking water and grey water used to flush toilets. He says the new colour pipe chosen to carry the grey water is purple and the water itself is blue so that people know not to drink it.
Ryno Lochner, a Data Analyst at SU Utilities, says the next phase of the project will focus on the academic buildings, with the new Learning and Teaching building first in line to benefit from the grey water system.