UCT aims to become a net-zero-water campus by 2050
Cape Town - UCT has committed itself to sustainable water management with a view to becoming a net-zero-water campus by 2050.
Net-zero-water is when the water demand met from municipal supply equals the water demand met from alternative supply options such as rainwater harvesting, when measured over a period of one year.
UCT spokesperson Thami Nkwanyane said the university’s sustainable water management strategy was
evidence of the commitment and support of UCT’s vision 2030, which has a key focus on sustainability, and was estimated to save more than R62 million over five years and R21m annually thereafter.
Nkwanyane said the strategy was commissioned by the university in response to the trans-disciplinary, collaborative and impact-driven research by its Future Water Institute on the implementation of water-sensitive design principles – considering the recent drought that affected Cape Town.
Manfred Braune, director of environmental sustainability at UCT, said that in 2017 and 2018 they came very close to running out of water. He said that was a terrifying thought, something they could not have imagined would happen.
“It shook the city of Cape Town and UCT, but at the same time we learnt a lot more about water and how we can save this very precious resource.”
Braune, who led the development of the strategy, said: “We want our relationship with water to change, we want to treat it as the precious resource that it is and reorganise ourselves and our infrastructure to do so.”
Nkwanyane said the interventions proposed would enable them to continue to operate during periods of water scarcity and would build capacity to withstand future droughts in the province.
The Future Water Institute’s interim director, Dr Kirsty Carden, said they were committed to supporting the roll-out of the strategy.
“We acknowledge the need for a sustainable water management approach on campus – not only in terms of building resilience to future water-related risks at UCT, but also as an integral learning opportunity that will allow research and teaching to come alive through real projects that are cutting edge,” Carden said.