The Southern African region is reportedly suffering one of the worst droughts in recent years. In light of this ongoing drought, the City Of Johannesburg (CoJ) announced further measures following level two water restrictions have been in place since November last year. These new measures include fines of up to R1500 for the misuse of water by using sprinklers, hose pipes to wash cars and the use of municipal water to fill up swimming pools.

As a large consumer of water in the city, Wits University, with its expansive campuses and residences, will be affected.

Prof Mike Muller, who chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security from 2012 to 2014, said the main problem is people don’t know just how much water they consume and suggests the university should take a more active role in this regard.

“The first step is to tell us how much water is used in total,” he said.

Muller said university management could also be more helpful in providing platforms to report wasteful water use.

“In many university buildings, there are toilets that never stop flushing, taps that are broken and keep running. How do we report these problems?” he said.

But Mxolisi Dube, director of Property and Infrastructure Management, said that minimising water consumption on the campus was a “behavioural matter that each and every member of the university has a responsibility towards”.

Manager of Grounds and Waste Management Kirshen Pillay said that since the announcement of the level two water restrictions by CoJ the university has been taking steps to use water more economically. These include adjusting irrigation schedules to comply with water services by-laws.

“We have thus implemented a no-irrigation policy where gardens are serviced by municipal water in the prescribed times,” he said. Automated irrigation timers have also been adjusted to late evening (7:00pm).

Other projects include using borehole networks to water stadia, a plan to refurbish the reservoir at Ithemba labs, rain water harvesting and landscape designs for gardens to be more sustainable.