Drakensberg Sun’s Water Management Programme

Filed in Environment by on November 30, 2013

View across Nkwankwa Lake to the hotel – © Drakensberg Sun Resort

Being situated on the boundaries of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg UNESCO World Heritage Site it stands to reason that the Drakensberg Sun would have an ethos of environmental responsibility. The evidence being their proud status as a Diamond rated establishment through the Heritage Environmental Management Company as well as the numerous Imvelo Awards they have won. One achievement that they are particularly proud of is the sustainability of their water management programme. 

Over the past four years they have concentrated on a strict implementation and mitigation of their water usage.  Not receiving water from any council or government body, the effective management of their natural water supply is of utmost importance. The Resort’s water operates on a closed loop system – water is drawn from the Nkwankwa Lake which is then treated and used on the property, retreated and returned back to nature.

The use of sensor pumps ensures they only pump water when needed, which saves electricity and also reduces water wastage and is the return process nature is given a cleaner product than what was drawn from it. The treatment of the grey water includes being fed though UV sterilisation banks before being drained back into the drainage beds.

Says General Manager Darron Moore ‘We ensure that nature is left as we find it and improve on it where we can. In addition we also manage our own irrigation which is fed using non-treated water. In the past years we have shown a 28% reduction in our water consumption and we are currently looking at ways of increasing the saving by looking at low flow shower heads and smart flushing toilet bowls in our bathrooms’.


The finer details…

Water supply

The water being delivered from the dam is fed through a baffle clarifier where it is flocculated to rid the water of precipitated metals and other suspended matter. The flow is then directed through a multimedia sediment filter for removal of remaining finer matter after which it is passed through three Activated Carbon filters to remove organics, odours, bad taste and colours. The final clarified water is then pumped through a flow meter into storage reservoirs. When there is a tap opened in our guest areas, kitchen or laundry, the water passes through a set of ten ultra violet lights where it is disinfected directly before use. The water is tested monthly by a certified water testing facility, and is currently below the required DWAF limit of water usage for a heritage site result. No harmful or chlorine based chemicals are used in the process.

Grey Water and Sewage

Grey water and sewage also form part of the water management policy and the Resort has their own plant on site.  All grey water and sewerage is fed to the sewer plant where it passes through a bar screen splitter to remove solids which are disposed of through a certified safe waste disposal company in sealed safe waste disposal drums. Certificates of safe waste disposal are received for each pickup.

The liquids then flow into an aeration tank where the nitrates and phosphates are removed. From these tanks the flow goes to a decant tank for inspection and then through drainage beds to remove any other possible solids. From there it flows into a baffle clarifier with an attached ten bank ultra violet light disinfection system before it is released into evaporation/reed beds and into the natural water system, via a serpentine.

The ultra violet sterilisation system that was installed has proven effective in treating the effluent and killing harmful bacteria.  The final effluent undergoes monthly testing, and results are showing the effluent released back into the water system is cleaner than the water from up river.  The Drakensberg Sun Resort’s water management practices have ensured that they remain at the forefront of technical innovation to achieve clean water results in the Cathkin area of the Central Drakensberg.

Water Consumption

Flow meters have been installed at the water plant and the irrigation pumps to better monitor and hence manage the water consumption. They have eradicated large sections of Blue Gum forest, an alien species that consumes high quantities of water (approximately 2000 liters per day per adult blue gum), this has resulted in the water table rising. As a result of this they have had to install an agricultural drainage system on the resort to draw off the excess water and feed it directly into the dam.

Contact Details:

Tel: +27 36 468 1000

Email: drakreservations@tsogosun.com



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