Every drop counts – not only when it comes to preventing water wastage
but also saving the bank account from drying up. This is especially true for
schools with already constrained resources and with limited tools available to
Saving water and money at schools has been the focus of a project run by
Prof Thinus Booysen and his team from the Department of Electrical and
Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University. Through the use of smart
metering technology, they have enabled schools, households and other
institutions to limit water usage and minimise expenses.
Booysen said there are already five schools putting the technology to
the test by the end of August. He hopes that more schools can get involved as a
lot of water can be saved, especially since the cost of water for bulk users in
Stellenbosch has more than doubled since July.
The smart water meter is simply attached to a municipal water meter, and
then reports into a web server via cellular, NB-IoT or Sigfox networks.
Information is made available on a web app and through daily emailed reports.
Moreover, notifications of unexpected events are sent by SMS and email.
According to Booysen, after the installation of this solution, people
become more aware of how much water they use. This awareness invariably leads
to substantial reductions, with as much as 68% observed.
Shortly after the pilot project started at Laerskool Stellenbosch
(Stellenbosch Primary School) a few months ago, their water consumption dropped
from 35 kl. per day to 11 kl. per day. In fact, the savings per month is equal
to the salaries of two junior teachers.
The moment there was a burst pipe at the school during the July holiday,
an alarm triggered, the school was notified immediately and they were able to
prevent an estimated loss of around 1 million litres” adds Booysen.
Jacques Horn, deputy principal at Laerskool Stellenbosch, said that the
meter really works well. “We have already saved a lot of water and everyone is
more aware of saving water. We have even adjusted the water supply to the
A further solution was
to connect the water supply to the toilets with a timer control system. In this
way, the water supply to the restrooms could be closed late afternoon and
opened again the following morning.
The project champion at Laerskool Eikestad (Eikestad Primary School),
Dirk Coetsee, said that after the installation of the water meter, the school
managed to save at least 3 kl. of water per day.
“We picked up there was water use over weekends when there was no one at
school. Then we discovered a water leakage underground.”
like A.F. Louw Primary School, Hoërskool Stellenbosch and Hector Peterson
Secondary School in Wallacedene have also come on board with the project.
The project is being
commercialised by InnovUS, the University’s technology transfer office,
and incubated by the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab, SU’s business incubator, through a spin-off company, Bridgiot (Bridge
to the Internet of Things).
Caption: Prof Thinus Booysen sits at his desk with the
water usage data of a Stellenbosch school on his computer.