University boffins slash school's water use by two-thirds

24 August 2017 - 11:09 By Dave Chambers
Stellenbosch University. File photo.
Stellenbosch University. File photo.

A primary school has cut its water use by two-thirds with the help of a device developed at Stellenbosch University.

Stellenbosch Primary is using 11 kilolitres a day‚ down from 35kl before it became one of five schools piloting a smart meter made in the university’s electrical and electronic engineering department.

The school's water bill saving is equivalent to the salaries of two junior teachers.

The meter transmits consumption information to an internet app‚ and notifications of unexpected events are sent by SMS and email.

“The moment there was a burst pipe at the school during the July holiday‚ an alarm triggered‚ the school was notified immediately and they were able to prevent an estimated loss of around a million litres” said project leader Professor Thinus Booysen.

The main advantage of the device was in raising awareness of how much water is being used‚ he said.

Stellenbosch Primary deputy principal Jacques Horn said: “We have already saved a lot of water and everyone is more aware of saving water. We have even adjusted the water supply to the bathrooms.”

The project champion at Eikestad Primary‚ Dirk Coetsee‚ said the meter had reduced consumption by at least 3kl a day. “We picked up there was water use over weekends when there was no one at school. Then we discovered a water leakage underground.”

The meter is being commercialised by InnovUS‚ the university’s technology transfer office‚ and incubated by the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab through a spin-off company‚ Bridgiot (Bridge to the Internet of Things).