The Late Professor Kader Asmal
Former Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry
11 February 2010
To Whom it may Concern:
Garden Rhapsody Grey Water Re-using System
It is very rare that a product, in this case, a new product gives so much satisfaction. We were one of the first to have this system installed. My officials at the Department of Water Affairs in Pretoria – I was the Minister at that time – warned me against this system as it would destroy my garden. As a matter of fact, the grass and the shrubs have flourished. During the drought about four years ago, when there were severe restrictions on garden water use, mine flourished because of the grey water. The service is excellent, even putting up with a smiling face with the idiocies of the owner, in this case me, who could not unravel the pipes. I have no hesitation in commending this system, its service and delivery, not only as a good example of water conservation and for beautifying the garden, but also as an excellent example of entrepreneurship.
Professor Kader Asmal
Former Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry
Environmenal Planner and Urban Designer
Fynbos Conservation Award winner 2009
Johnny Walker Celebrating Strides nominee 2010
17 years ago, as I became aware of the impact our lifestyles were having on our environment and coupled with a growing sceptism of big corporates, from municipalities to private sector conglomerates, I looked around for more opportunities to go off the grid. We already had a solar hot water heating system installed in 1987 which is still going strong today! We were busy planning new bathrooms and looking at options for rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling. The search was difficult with most information originating out of California and it seemed that we would have to put together our own system working with very cynical local plumbers when we came across Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor at Water Rhapsody. Jeremy was an inspirational breath of fresh air, a non-materialistic idealist with a strong practical streak – seemingly out of step with our peers’ conspicuous consumption lifestyles but light years ahead of them in terms of what we needed to do to ensure there would still be a planet for our grandchildren. Jeremy had devised a series of water saving devices using strong robust catalogue components that could be clipped onto standard plumbing systems. As I am interested in simple and elegant design of buildings and architecture, hate the need for regular home maintenance, and being a great disciple of the “set and forget” philisophy, I scrutinised Jeremy’s systems very carefully. My wife was also an important test in that she thought that all of these ideas were a bit cranky and didn’t want to have anything to do with inventions that would cause smells, regular maintenance or lifestyle adaptations. The pool was bad enough! There didn’t seem to be any clever tricks designed to hook one into ongoing maintenance contracts and supply of overpriced essential bespoke maintenance items or patented parts only available from Jeremy – as I had found to great cost with a swimming pool filter system we had installed from another contractor. We made sure that the plumbers fitted the necessary dual plumbing systems in the new bathrooms and retrofitted them in the existing amd installed the grey water recycling system. We are happy to report that we have never used municipal water on the bottom lawn again. As you will gather we are not very good on regular maintenance but the system, whose filters do need cleaning from time to time, – usually takes 5 minutes at the end of winter – has operated successfully ever since. As you can imagine with our erratic approach to home maintenance the filters do eventually block up with lint etc. At this point the overflow to the sewer kicks in and we never suffer any problems other noticing the garden sprinkler doesn’t come on. We then clean the filters and off it goes. The cleaning is also simple and the parts robust enough to enable unskilled staff to do it. We still get a great sense of satisfaction after showering or letting the bath water out to go and watch the sprinkler working. Our staff think the system is magic. We have enthusiastically endorsed the product to friends and family over the past 15 years and have not heard a single complaint. There are now the very attractive Water Rhapsody signs in every street in our neighbourhood. My wife’s sister has had a double system installed in the front and back of her house. Her husband is a perfectionist engineer with the council who watches the pennies very carefully but they, too, have been very happy with their system.
After an extensive investigation into locally available greywater reuse products, the WRC K5/1821 team agreed to install the greywater system advertised by Water Conservation Systems. This was one of the excellent choices that has been made on the project. The Water Conservation greywater system installed at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, was cheap (especially considering the challenges involved in retrofitting a 60 year old building!), rugged, easy to change/upgrade and very functional. The staff, Ryan, Gopi and Isaiah, were very professional and prompt in attending to our questions, teething problems after implementation and the upgrades which were necessary due to the nature of the project. For this reason, the project team will be employing Water Conservation Systems for the 2nd pilot greywater system to be soon implemented at the University of Johannesburg.
Brief on Water Research Commission project K5/1821
In 2008, the South African Water Research Commission, commissioned a team of researchers from the Universities of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Cape Town led by Dr Adesola Ilemobade (University of the Witwatersrand) to install 2 pilot greywater reuse systems for toilet/urinal flushing and if possible, limited landscape irrigation. The systems will be implemented in 2 buildings – the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand (representative of an educational institution) and a 16 person residential unit at the Student Village residence, Kingsway Campus, University of Johannesburg (representative of a residential dwelling). The aim of this project is to investigate the potential for implementing greywater reuse systems primarily for toilet/urinal flushing, and if possible, landscape irrigation in high-density urban buildings within South Africa. Some of the project objectives are listed below:
- To understand peak and off-peak trends pertaining to toilet flushing within these different buildings and to understand the impact of greywater reuse for toilet/urinal flushing on total water supply to these buildings;
- To determine the perceptions of decision-makers and potential users towards the implementation of the pilot systems and reusing treated greywater for toilet/urinal flushing and if possible, limited landscape irrigation;
- To develop a framework for scoring diverse greywater treatment units for on-site greywater reuse;
- To interrogate existing regulations and guidelines relating to greywater systems and greywater reuse and from literature and the experience of the pilot systems, to proffer best practice for South Africa;
- To investigate the implications of implementing greywater reuse systems for primarily toilet/urinal flushing and if possible, limited landscape irrigation, within the targeted buildings and to extrapolate the implications for similar potential beneficiaries within South Africa.