Rainwater harvesting has been earmarked as an intervention strategy to provide clean and potable water directly to households and thereby alleviate the pressures on existing water systems. Conflicting conclusions have however, been made regarding the quality of harvested rainwater, as microbial and chemical contaminants have previously been detected in rainwater tanks. Following the completion of the Water Research Commission project K5/2124//3 titled, “Point of use disinfection systems designed for domestic rainwater harvesting (DRWH) tanks for improved water quality in rural communities,” it was established that utilising rainwater for potable purposes may only be achievable if pre-treatment systems are utilised. Literature as well as the results from project K5/2124//3 then showed that solar pasteurization is a reliable and inexpensive treatment system, which can be employed for the treatment of larger quantities of rainwater.
The current WRC project K5/2368//3 thus focuses on the implementation of rainwater harvesting solar pasteurization treatment systems on site in Enkanini informal settlement. Enkanini was selected as the location for the installation of the rainwater harvesting treatment systems, as only 32 standpipes are intermittently located throughout the settlement and upon completion of deliverable one (WRC project K5/2368//3), titled: “Social perception of implementing a pilot Domestic Rainwater Harvesting (DRWH) Multi-Tank station in Enkanini, Stellenbosch”, results indicated that 61% of the respondents (n = 95) were familiar with the concept of rainwater harvesting. In addition, many of the respondents (67%) were favourably inclined towards using rainwater for their daily needs, with 77% indicating that they would use the water for bathing and cleaning their house, while 65% would use the water for cooking and 46% would use the water for potable or drinking purposes.
Two small-scale rainwater harvesting solar pasteurization treatment systems were then installed at a local church (site 1) and a free-standing informal dwelling (site 2), respectively, while a large-scale system was installed at the Enkanini Research Centre (ERC, site 3), where Mr Yondela Tyawa, the co-researcher on the project, is based. On Monday 7 September 2015 the Water Resource Microbiology research group (Stellenbosch University), together with Ms Lauren Tavener-Smith and Mr Berry Wessels, affiliated with the Sustainability Institute at Stellenbosch University, hosted a workshop at the ERC with all the participating Enkanini residents. The primary aim of the workshop was to explain the principle of the treatment system as well as outline the maintenance and primary water uses of the treated water as indicated on the rainwater harvesting poster. The workshop was a huge success and in total ten households based in Enkanini will be involved in the pilot research phase of the project.
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