UCT community called on to save water

01 November 2004

On October 1 water restrictions were imposed on the city of Cape Town, instructing residents to reduce their usage of drinking water by 20%.As a user of municipal potable (drinking) water, UCT and its sprawling campuses will also be required to save water.

But according to Duke Metcalf of UCT's properties and services department, the water restrictions, as they stand, impact seriously on the university and are difficult to implement due to the size of the institution.

"UCT supports initiatives to save water and to change consumption patterns to conserve this vital resource and we call on staff and students to assist us in this regard by reporting leaking taps and pipes to the maintenance help desk."

Metcalf explained that the university has worked vigorously over the past four years to maximise water conservation.

"We have installed major irrigation systems to overcome this problem and are constantly seeking ways to improve these systems," he added.

Measures have also included the introduction of water-saving devices in toilets and showers, the reuse of "grey" water from all new air-conditioning plants, and the incremental introduction of water-wise horticultural practices, coupled with a concerted drive to replace alien vegetation with indigenous plants.

"We are also currently working to optimise the water stored in the earth dam on upper campus, which provides for all our water requirements for the upper and lower campus sports fields," Metcalf noted. "By raising the dam's overflow outlet channel, we hope to increase the capacity of the dam by some five million litres."

Engineers are investigating the introduction of a system to minimise the overflow between the earth dam and the reservoir situated on the sports field next to Kopano.

Despite UCT's support for the restrictions, Metcalf said the university has lodged an application to be exempted from these for three reasons.

The vast campuses, some 76 hectares in total, make it impossible and impractical to use hand-held watering devices and the application seeks permission to use the irrigation systems when watering is permitted.

Another reason for the application is the recent landscaping upgrades on various campuses. Young plants and trees that have been planted need to be watered regularly if they are to survive. And with UCT's estate spanning many different erven, Metcalf says it is impossible to determine whether they have even or odd street numbers. UCT therefore proposes to water their gardens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays before 10h00.

(Leaking taps and pipes can be reported to the maintenance help desk on tel 650 4321).

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