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Western Cape Education Department Offers New Subsidy To Schools To Support Water Sustainability

THE Western Cape Education Department is offering voluntary subsidies available to schools that want to play their part in ensuring a sustainable and secure water future for the Western Cape, by installing smart water meters.

 Debbie Schäfer, MEC of Education in the Western Cape, said these devices will help schools manage their water usage better and assist in resolving problems with water infrastructure speedily.

“Maintaining a stable water supply has never been more important. We have seen the challenges that a lack of water has created across the country at a time when washing hands frequently and cleaning surfaces regularly are essential to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” said Schäfer.

“We have already undertaken a successful pilot project by installing water meters at 350 schools. Millions of litres of water (and thousands of rands) have been saved by our schools through the installation of meters, maintenance of water infrastructure and behaviour change amongst staff and learners.”

According to Schäfer, the water monitoring devices also generate notifications when problems that would normally go undetected occur – like burst pipes or leaks. 

The provincial education department’s subsidy will cover the installation costs for the water monitoring devices (capped) per school and the monthly service fees (capped and renewable annually, subject to conditions met), for an agreed period.

Schools will be required to enter directly into a service contract with a water metering supplier that is able to meet certain technical conditions.

“Information on how to register interest in the subsidies, and to check if a school meets the required technical conditions, has been sent to schools over the past week,” she said.

“Saving water is everyone’s responsibility – be it at school, home or work. It was not too long ago that our province suffered one of the worst droughts in decades. Just as we are working together to tackle Covid-19, we must together maintain our commitment to conserving our most precious resource: water.”

The provision of water and sanitation to schools in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak has been one of the biggest challenges in South Africa.  

Over 3 500 schools, mainly in rural areas, remain closed due to lack of sufficient water provision and sanitation facilities.

(Compiled by Inside Education staff)

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