The devastating effects of the El Nino-induced drought have left many countries in Africa, including South Africa, unable to meet their water requirements.
Now, a conglomerate of companies have launched a groundbreaking system that combines cutting edge technology to provide much-needed clean, safe drinking and irrigation water to communities.
The project, sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through its sustainable water fund, provides for 20 GreenSource systems to be installed in South Africa.
The idea for the project was first conceived by visiting Dutch engineers who were here attending the 2010 soccer world cup and experienced the passion for sport among South Africans. They also became aware of the growing water problem in the country and engineered an integrated system, which could combine the need for both clean drinking water, and sports facilities.
The result was the GreenSource Sports for Water system, which was subsequently installed as a pilot project in 2015 at Moedwil Secondary School in Rustenburg, North West Province.
The Project plan makes provision for a five-year implementation time frame. Greensource is a Public Private Partnership (PPP), whose cost is shared between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dutch and South African based companies as well as local public bodies.
Water, available from boreholes, dams, rivers and rainwater, can feed into the GreenSource system where it is stored and purified.
The GreenSource System
Each Greensource system can provide up to 17 million litre of clean drinking water to surrounding households. Making this technology even more innovative and exciting is its combination with a six -a-side artificial soccer field, and from there with ‘sport for water’, the world’s first.
Martin Olde Weghuis, Commissioner and Director of GreenSource – Sport for Water, says, “Using open innovation and knowledge of synthetic turf systems, water handling, storage and filtration, we believe we have found a sustainable solution to drinking water challenges in South Africa.”
This solution was developed and is now implemented by a consortium consisting of a number of partners, including Tencate, Pentair, Saxion University, Drain Products, Mmapula Socio-economic Development Consultants and Royal Turf Investments.
Clean water is becoming scarce
He explains that in 2010 the Environment and Conservation Association estimated that in the next 5 years, 80% of South Africa’s fresh water resources would be so badly polluted that no process of purification available in the country would be able to make it fit for consumption.
“GreenSource partners have been working tirelessly to develop a system to address some of the communities’ most pressing water-related challenges,” says Olde Weghuis.
Olde Weghuis, a renowned facilitator of innovation, explains that Greensource combines synthetic turf and water filtration, using membrane and ultra-filtration technology. The integrated system promotes healthy living, emphasising the importance of drinking enough water and of being physically active.
Research conducted by the WWF shows that pollution in South Africa is so serious that at least 11 out of 19 water management areas in the country have water supply problems, and at least 14 million South Africans do not have access to safe drinking water.
This translates to an enormous 26% of the population. The WWF also estimates that if we continue at this rate, we could run out of water before 2040!
He notes that although the drought has aggravated an already acute water problem whose other major cause is pollution, there are sustainable and cost effective solutions that can be used to address these challenges.
GreenSource will provide huge relief in areas where only polluted water is available.
Corne Theunissen, CEO of Mmapula Socio-economic Development Consultants, which has been actively involved in the project rollout, says, “Greensource is one of the most innovative resources our company has worked with to incorporate into strategic socio-economic development plans.
It is a tangible result of communities who mobilise and use local resources in conjunction with external interventions.
“There couldn’t be a better incentive to participate and contribute to providing a much-needed resource. South Africa’s development objectives can only be met through the ability to provide solutions to everyday challenges like adequate drinking water.”
Theunissen concludes that Greensource not only addresses critical socio-economic needs, but also brings an element of fun and recreation to previously disadvantaged communities.
For more information on how to become part of this project click here.