Huge Water Savings Possible with New Schools Water Project | Western Cape Government


Huge Water Savings Possible with New Schools Water Project

31 March 2009
Promising results were realised at three Karoo schools with hostels after the provincial government installed water efficiency fittings to assist with saving this precious resource. The results after a year revealed water savings of about 15 - 35% could be possible.

The provincial minister for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Pierre Uys, has announced today that the pilot project will be extended to ten other schools with high water consumption in Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha.

The project is part of the over all programme of the department, which aims at reducing the carbon footprint of the province through various efforts to reduce waste and be energy and water efficient. This is part of adapting under the Western Cape Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan.

This project is the first of its kind to be undertaken by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, and the co-operation of the schools management and that of the local authorities in the spirit of co-operative governance, and its interface with educators, learners and the community.

Water is one of the most vulnerable resources in the province under accelerated climate change and due to strong demand as a result of growth.

Minister Uys says: We all have to learn to adapt our ways, conserve as much as possible in order for more people to be sustained for longer on our available resources. Without water conservation now, the water crisis in the already drier parts of the Western Cape is likely to increase in the future. Additionally water conservation conserves energy (with regard to heating less water in the homes and industries as well as the use of pumps) and resources such as money, chemicals and manpower that go into the treatment of larger volumes of raw and effluent sewage, and expensive waste water treatment plants.

The purpose of this comprehensive project was to quantify and demonstrate the water savings that can be achieved by fitting schools with water efficiency devices in taps, showers and toilets. These are mostly very simple and low cost devices that restrict and decrease the water flow, thereby reducing consumption. The involvement by the Department through this initiative drives the awareness created around recycling and waste management. It shows that adaptation is possible by implementing changes geared towards reducing water consumption in schools.

The Karoo area was chosen for the pilot because it is a water scarce area. The schools, and their hostels, that were retrofitted are: Laingsburg High School, Teske Primary School in Beaufort West and Bridgton Secondary School in Oudtshoorn.

The activities that were planned for this water efficiency campaign included the following: A retrofit/replacement of all inefficient taps, showerheads and toilets with more efficient water saving devices or interventions; an audit of the water use at the schools and the hostels before and after the intervention to demonstrate the effectiveness of this initiative; and developing awareness and technical capacity of the maintenance staff, supervisors and decision makers of these buildings with regard to fitting more efficient water saving devices in the future.

The cost of such fittings could be recovered from savings within a few months to two years. The savings varied between R1 270 to R6 100 per year. This is based on average figures for the year preceding the retrofits to the year following the intervention.

Because of the positive outcomes of this project at these schools, the project was expanded into the Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha areas in 2008/09.

Schools with high water consumption were selected. Five schools in Mitchells Plain and five schools in Khayelitsha were identified. These schools did not have hostels, as the vast majority of urban schools do not provide hostel accommodation. The cost for retrofitting all of the ten schools was R44 100.

An additional amount of R4 470 was spent to purchase and fit the water saving devices for Spine Road High School. Water consumption will be monitored at all the retrofitted schools in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain throughout the next financial year in order to calculate the savings.

Minister Uys calls on all people to join hands in saving resources to save the planet. Every little bit adds up in the bigger picture. If it is just to close or fix that dripping tap or use less water to do our daily work, when put together it could fill a large pond.

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