Pulling the plug on wasted water


Cape Town’s water crisis is real. And it’s not going to solve itself. Which is why Professor Peter Mallon put a challenge to his students. They could be sore losers or game changers. He set his chemistry class at Stellenbosch University the task of finding solutions. And while they may not have been able to avert the disaster, they did come up with some innovative ways to save our remaining water.

Jonathan Hay and two of his fellow PhD students, Monica Clements and Anton Hamann, came out of the exercise having devised a method of saving water from lab equipment. Many of the apparatuses in their chemistry department require water to function, but aren’t necessarily designed to save it. So Hay and company created a Closed Cold-Water Recycling System to fix that.

Consisting of a cooler box, garden hose, laboratory silicone piping and garden fountain pump, the system cools used water with ice and then recycles it in a closed system. Without first being chilled, the liquid is too hot to be reused. The contraption created by Hay and his classmates is saving their chemistry lab 3 000 litres of water per week. On the 25 litre per person per day limit that will come into play when Cape Town’s dam levels dip below 13.5%, the amount they save will be enough to support around 17 people. Each drop really does count.