The Water Hub is an existent off campus Living Lab, which we see as an opportunity for IDTD demonstration and catalyst in Franschhoek Valley.
An abandoned wastewater treatment works (WWTW) in Franschhoek was dubbed the Water Hub by researchers in 2018. Constructed in the 1960s on municipal land, the abandoned property offers opportunities to build a resource recovery centre and an innovative research project. This began with the treatment of contaminated surface water runoff of the Stiebeuel River bisecting the study site. The Water Hub's location provides a good test site reflexive of many of South Africa’s waterways, as informal settlement and urban poor coexist alongside attractive vineyards and affluent landowners. Thousands of local and international visitors are drawn to the Franschhoek valley to enjoy the fruits of wine production, and high-quality cuisine. By contrast, 2.5 km from the centre of Franschhoek, in the residential settlement upslope of the Water Hub, 64% live in informal houses, where 1 800 households share 150 toilets (Stellenbosch Municipality Annual Report, 2018).
Research at the Water Hub includes real-time monitoring of the performance using IoT technologies in six biofilters to improve understanding degradation and capture of CECs, PFOS and PFAS as well as the real time management of these systems. In addition, the laboratory scale biofiltration cells will test and evaluate different nature-based media including biochar, granulated activated carbon, crushed pine-needles and enzymes.
Future Water's contribution to the University's Khusela Ikamva (sustainable campus) initiative is to address and explore the potential for the campus to become a zero-drop-wasted space. Some efforts to make this possible are already in place - and this page, dedicated to these efforts, outlines the location and types of efforts being rolled out.