18 Oct 2019

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is among the first South African universities to make SANS-quality drinking water on campus, with help from Royal HaskoningDHV.

The university, in partnership with Royal HaskoningDHV Southern Africa, recently completed its Borehole Water Purification Plant, which forms part of its broader Water Resilience Programme to better manage water consumption and sustainability, and to adapt and prepare for the realities of climate change.

The plant extracts water, via four boreholes, from an underlying aquifer on which the Bellville campus is situated. The extracted groundwater is then pumped into a treatment and purification plant, where it undergoes Ultra-Filtration and Reverse Osmosis processes to remove minerals, waste, debris, bacteria and salt.

What’s left is SANS-compliant potable water that is stored in two bulk water storage tanks and fed into the university’s main water supply via booster pumps. The plant can produce 0.5 megalitres (500 kilolitres / 500,000 litres) of treated and purified potable water every day – about half of the campus’s daily water requirements.

Royal HaskoningDHV Southern Africa, as principal agent, provided full multidisciplinary services for the project, including engineering, architecture, and quantity surveying, for planning, design, and contract administration.

UWC initiated its Water Resilience Programme in response to the 2018 Western Cape drought, which nearly resulted in a potential ‘Day Zero’ – the day taps would run dry. The borehole water treatment plant, which forms part of the university’s water management and sustainability plans, aims to change the university’s relationship with water, by making users more aware of their habits, and to intensify preservation, conservation, and consumption interventions.

The plant, which took less than one year to complete, will ensure an uninterrupted supply of potable water for consumption by UWC’s main campus occupants and users.