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.

Ongoing Work/Projects

Cool shack

A control and experimental shack/dwelling that measures temperature and humidity in each structure. It is cooled and insulated by placing treated bottled sludge in an inner wall and in the ceiling. The project is recovering plastic bottles, cardboard and sludge from an old maturation pond. Warmer in winter, and at least 12oC cooler in summer in early afternoon. These housing structures are designed to respond to heat stress. to climate change. A demonstration of circularity.

4th Year Honours Project: Ebrahim Behardien

river bank herbicided and irrigated for restoration

The Stiebeuel River that bisects the Water Hub is being restored. The banks have been sprayed with herbicide to limit the encroachment of weeds and kikuyu grass. A 500m stretch has been replanted with a range of indigenous plants and supported with an irrigation system. A litter trap is in place to capture and manage a large volume of litter that comes down the river from an underserviced informal settlement.

A Western Cape Government Project: Intaba Environmental Services.