Schools first target in water wastage fight

Information session highlights saving measures

In a desperate attempt to cut water wastage in Nelson Mandela Bay, the municipality has targeted schools as the first point of raising awareness during Water Month.

Twenty-six schools were identified as the biggest users in the metro, with Grey High the top user with an average daily consumption per pupil of 367 litres.

Water Month was launched at the Uitenhage Town Hall yesterday with an information session for pupils and principals.

On leak repairs, infrastructure and engineering head Annette Lovemore said: “It is quite clear the Department of Education does not have the money.

“And poorer schools do not have the funding to actually do anything about it.

“In many cases, it is not simply high water usage – it is high water wastage [as] there has been vandalism and a lot of leakage.

“Not only have we contacted the schools and asked them to do something, we will also continue engaging the department.”

Lovemore said the municipality’s plans included installing valves to restrict the flow of water during holidays and at night when no learning took place.

“We are looking at business to fund the implementation,” she said.

“We are hoping they will cover the funding to fix toilets where we have most leaks, and allow us to install the restrictor valves.”

The principals have welcomed the intervention by the municipality, saying they have often informed the Department of Education of their plight.

Patrick Moko, the principal of Nokwezi Primary School in KwaNobuhle, said having a food garden was one of the reasons for the school’s high water usage.

“The department requires us to have food gardens to provide nutrition for our pupils – and ours is bigger than this hall [Uitenhage Town Hall],” Moko said.

“We also have to use water for daily use. This doubles our water use and our bill, which goes up to R30 000 each month.”

Jubilee Park Primary School principal Pat Korkee said the school’s water usage was doubled by a construction site which shared a meter with it.

“We can’t control our water [usage] because there is a construction site using the same meter and our account is between R30 000 and R40 000, so we don’t have any control until the construction which started in 2014 is complete,” Korkee said.”

Verite Primary School principal Benny Safers said a leak in their main supply during the first month of school had led to a lot of water wastage.

“Leaks from toilets are also a big problem – and the taps are also leaking,” he said.

Provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said it was disingenuous to say that the department did not have the money to fix leaks.

“Every school has a budget set aside to fix leaks. This is the maintenance budget that can go up to R170 000 a school,” he said.

Mtima advised the schools to be creative in dealing with food gardens and to recycle the water used to wash dishes and hands for watering their plants.

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