The sustainable use of water by South Africa’s tourism industry is an often controversial issue, but one very much dependent on much broader programmes and initiatives designed to save and protect our national reserve. Indeed, in this respect our industry is in the unusual position of being at the forefront of assisting in the conservation of the country’s water resources, thanks to some outstanding projects across the country.
At the Fair Trade Tourism certified Spier, sustainable water use has been a mantra which has helped to fashion this Western Cape wine estate and luxury hotel into a tourism world-beater and pioneering wine farm at the same time. Spier successfully recycles all of its water thanks to a ground-breaking centralised waste water treatment plant which treats waste water in an exceptionally environmentally friendly way, with the cleaned water then used to irrigate the garden and grounds of the estate.
Combining both cleansing and “healing” techniques to bring life and energy back to the water, the plant was the first of its kind in South Africa. It uses an Archimedean-screw mechanism for screening and an activated-sludge bioreactor. The activated- sludge process is a biological, 100% natural, eco-friendly method of wastewater treatment performed by a variable and mixed community of micro-organisms in an aerobic aquatic environment. It processes up to a million litres of wastewater at any given time.The aeration pumps switch off periodically, allowing the bacteria and waste to settle at the bottom.
The cleaner water is skimmed from the top and moved through pipes that irrigate an oval-shaped reed bed. This reed bed is ideal for the natural growth of bacteria, which continue the cleansing process. The water passes through the reed bed into a pond where it is driven through a number of “flow forms” before being transported to the nearby irrigation dam. It is believed that this process calms the water and helps it return to its more harmonious state.
The success story of Spier is just one of several world-leading water rehabilitation projects which have now been boosted by a new book which looks at the conservation and protection of the pristine groundwater which gave rise to South Africa’s capital city – Pretoria.The book – Hydrological Heritage Overview: Pretoria’s Fountains – Arteries of Life, is the first in a series being published by the Water Research Commission (WRC) aimed at creating awareness regarding the history and importance of water in the development of South Africa, and to improve understanding of the important role that hydrology and hydrogeology plays in our day-to-day lives.Pretoria’s “Fountains” – the natural springs which provide large quantities of groundwater are in turn used as a domestic water supply providing pristine quality and a constant flow. The water sourced from these springs supply Pretoria with drinking water to this day. The quality is exceptionally good and treatment is not required.
Read the full article on page 21.