Greetings 2020, Storm Smith here! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and that you are all looking forward to the year ahead. I know that I am!

Today’s theme has several names: H2o, aqua, Adam’s ale or even water. But I digress, so let’s just dive right in, shall we?

The Cape Town water crisis has seriously changed the way we view and treat water (pun intended). Thankfully, due to restrictions on water usage, public efforts, and generous winter rains, our dam levels are currently sitting at 75%. Although our total usage is slightly higher than the target set out by the City of Cape Town, the general attitude towards water consumption has significantly improved. From corporate to the couch, society rises and falls with the dam levels and as such the water-saving efforts should be executed collectively.

So, what, might I ask, should we do with this newly found wisdom? Firstly, we should curb our individual water-footprint (yes, that is the correct word) by reducing bad water habits.

This means:

  • Reducing our shower times and collecting the water wasted while we wait for it to heat up
  • Closing the tap while brushing our teeth
  • Flushing the toilet only when necessary
  • Washing the dishes in a container opposed to letting the tap run
  • Wearing clothing again when possible and selecting the eco-mode on the washing machine.

These are all noble efforts but, to be honest, they are frankly a little outdated. I only say this because these methods should be a given and not seem like a sacrifice. While still honorable, there is clearly a more significant approach.

Cue drum roll … Off-Grid Water Systems!

My pals down at OwnGrown are doing wonderful things in this regard; with custom water systems that are efficient, professionally designed, and regularly maintained. Treated borehole water from the ground to your tap whether it’s a hospital, school, business or home – purely delicious and pH perfect!

To get a better idea of what this entails I joined my friend Mike, Owner and founder of OwnGrown, on a ride-along to view the water maintenance process. We visited two locations that day and I am quite impressed at the sheer scale of these projects, especially the capacity at which they can meet the facilities’ daily water demands.

On arrival I was daunted by the network of pipes and tanks which snaked through towards a central room, the heart of the water filtration process. Trying to fit all the pieces together was a fun exercise; one which became extremely easy to understand after a thorough explanation from Mike. It was fascinating to learn about the ‘water cycle’ and quite honestly, I can sleep easily knowing that there are passionate people out there working hard to supply clean resources. I mean water is life after all.

So, in layman’s terms, I’ll attempt to describe this process to you now …

Filtration Process:

Zeolite FRP (Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic) This is a filtration media tank, it removes organic matter and heavy metal cations.

Ecomix FRP (Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic) Removes organic impurities, iron and manganese; improves flushing, softens water and evenly distributes the flow.

UV Lamp Disinfects the water to ensure it is free of potential bacteria.

Conditioning Process:

Circulation Loop for Balancing the pH This ensures that the water has a neutral pH because, believe it or not, water can be corrosive if not properly balanced which can cause major problems to plumbing infrastructure. This pH stage is automatically monitored using calibrated and regularly tested probes and dosing pumps.

Additional Chlorination This is what you would call a ‘belts and braces’ stage, primarily to ensure there is small amounts of chlorine in the system for final sterilization. This will also ensure downstream infrastructure is adequately clean, an important part of creating ‘potable’ water.

Once the water is ready for human consumption and safe for the plumbing system, it is pumped out into a larger tank before entering the facility’s system.

Voila, now we are supplying around 100kL of safe drinking water daily, sourced from the ground. These sites and the water quality are monitored daily by trained maintenance operatives and there are regular visits from skilled and qualified alternative water filtration technicians and independent geohydrologists who monitor ground water levels to ensure future sustainability of this valuable resource. Trust me, I got to taste it for myself.

If you would like an idea of how you could go off-grid then contact OwnGrown for a consultation. Besides water filtration and purification, you should also check out their rainwater collection and grey water systems and many other off-grid specialties

Go for it, go off-grid!