WATER WEEKLY 2 | 5 March 2019

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Water Weekly Update logo

Thank you to all the suggestions, submissions and engagements received after last week’s newsletter. There were a lot of queries about how Oppidan students and off-campus staff should be dealing with the water crisis, so we are dedicating this edition to off-campus living. Remember, that anyone who lives off campus falls under the municipality’s water crisis measures.

This water crisis affects us all, and it is only through collaboration, discussion and sharing of information that we can hope to get through these trying times.

We are opening the communications@ru.ac.za email address to your participation in this water crisis. Please send the following:

  • Your suggestions for improvement on our communication methods about water-saving and usage… but please keep in mind, there is a big difference between a complaint and a suggestion.
  • Your own tips for saving our water – include your name and department so we can credit you!
  • What water-saving initiative you, your department, faculty, or residence are implementing or busy implementing. We would like to follow up on some of these stories and feature them on our website, social media or campus screens. Don’t hold back!
  • If your research touches on water issues, please let us know, as we would like to know all the ways in which Rhodes University is helping alleviate water issues on a local, national, and even international scale.

We need all hands on deck going forward, and each and every submission is appreciated.


Community conversation

Wee wiser

One of the worst culprits of unnecessary water usage are toilets. Every flush uses at least 6 litres of water. Many people are still flushing toilets after every urination. This is a completely unnecessary waste. To try and keep this from happening, Rhodes University has started placing WeeWiser posters on the back of the doors of each of the female toilet stalls. Please use them! The idea is to move the pointer one position forward every time you urinate, with every fourth urination ending in a flush.

There is far too much stigma about urine. Urine is not a health hazard and is safe in the bowl – there really is no reason to flush every time. Remember, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”

If you are bothered by the smell, you can watch this video of SuzelleDIY, where she shows how to make a DIY toilet spray: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYYZXmfflSg. She also explains how you can make your own hand sanitiser, wet wipes, bottle tap and other great ideas to help you best ration your 50litres a day.

 We would love to hear anyone’s view on this issue at communications@ru.ac.za.


What you can do to #DoYourPart and #SaveOurWater

Last week, we asked for suggestions and tips for water-saving. We received some great responses!

Please keep sending these to us at communications@ru.ac.za, so that we can include them in future issues of this newsletter.

  • I collect my shower water using three buckets. I use them to water my herbs and do my dishes or household cleaning. I do the dishes in one of the buckets and then use all the grey water left for toilet flushing. ~ Katherine, Oppidan student
  • Set the thread on every tap so it cannot be opened to 100% pipe diameter. Set it so that the tap cannot be opened more than 50%. Use glue to shorten the thread. ~ Thomas, Geography & HKE
  • Take your washing machine outlet pipe and let it flow into a big dustbin or tub. This way, grey water won't be lost and it can be used to flush toilets. ~ Sean Herd-Hoare, Geography
  • Residents are also urged not to connect water tanks to municipal supply, except for one tank to the maximum capacity of 2500 liters.


What the municipality is doing

  • The municipality has banned the Fire Department’s red truck (which is used solely for putting out fires) from pumping water from fire hydrants. The Fire Department has instead been instructed to pump water from Gray Dam and Dog Dam. If anyone sees the red Fire Department truck pumping water from the hydrants, they should please email watercrisis@makana.gov.za immediately – preferably with pictures.
  • The white fire truck, however, is allowed to pump water from the hydrants as this truck has been allocated to transport potable water. This also applies to the two Fire Department bakkies.
  • The municipality is ready to implement its water-saving measures as soon as the funding (from Sarah Baartman being gazetted as a disaster area) to be released.
  • The municipality is considering formally hiring Gift of the Givers to work alongside the municipality and Rhodes University during the water crisis.
  • On 14 January 2019, the municipal manager convened a special Makana water intervention meeting with all relevant stakeholder representative, a water intervention task team was established to develop a plan on how to address the current water challenges. The task team was then constituted as a Water Joint Operations Committee. Rhodes University representatives attend these meetings on a weekly basis.
  • As from 26 February 2019, eight tankers were hired by the municipality to deliver water to Makanda East. These tankers will fill up at the boreholes already drilled. Gift of the Givers are also providing two tankers to deliver water.
  • 370 Jo-Jo tanks were donated to Gift of the Givers by Engen and these are on its way to Makana.
  • The Jo-Jo tanks will be places at strategic areas in Makanda and will be filled by the water tankers for usage by residents.
  • Boreholes have already been drilled at Waainek Water Works, Rhodes University, Settlers Monument, Ntsiksa Secondary School and other locations are in the process of being identified and drilled
  • Once the water situation has stabilised and the drought is over, the boreholes will be shut down.


What Rhodes is doing to #SaveOurWater

  • The majority of smart water metres have been installed at all the residences on campus. Smart water metres will work to not only reduce water pressure/flow when there is an excess of use, but it will cut off the water supply after the 50litres per person daily water limit has been reached. This will assist students to become self-regulating with their water-use.
  • Grey water, drinking water, and rainwater tanks have been placed all around campus. Rhodes University has received its second water tanker, which is being used to transport grey water and borehole water to these water tanks. Drinking water tanks have already been filled with potable water.
  • Gift of the Givers and Rhodes University have drilled all three campus boreholes, which have yielded water. Together, the boreholes can yield up to 1.2 million litres of water per day. This is thanks to the visionary and imaginative work done by the University's Institute for Water Research (IWR) hydrologists, Denis Hughes and Jane Tanner, whose work mapped the available ground water resources in our Municipality. These groundwater sources are free from harmful bacteria and are in the process of being checked for their chemical breakdown.
  • P-Mats have been added to all urinals and hand sanitisers have been placed in all of the bathrooms on campus.
  • Chlorinating agent will be added to the water collection containers to ensure that the water is sanitised for flushing toilets.
  • Each student has been issued with water bottles for drinking water. Water is to be collected from the Khaki coloured water tanks that are labelled ‘DRINKING WATER’. Refer to map on Google Drive link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1v_t-w5xB3puUuckTm-ZUYFAR1ZDjEYHD?usp=sharing
  • Rhodes University’s Communications and Advancement Division attends weekly Water Crisis Joint Operations Committee meetings to ensure the most up-to-date and relevant information from municipal stakeholders can be communicated to the Rhodes University community in the form of regular communiqués.
  • Rhodes University has put up WeeWise posters on the back of several female toilet stalls (admin and department buildings). Please use these posters to limit the amount of flushes.

Useful links/articles this week:

Thank you for working through these difficult times with us. We appreciate all of the assistance that has been offered to us thus far. Please keep the conversation about #SaveOurWater going.

Email communications@ru.ac.za.