Assessing the benefits of real-time control to enhance rainwater harvesting at a building in Cape Town, South Africa
Keywords:real-time-control, water supply, rainwater harvesting, Cape Town
In the period 2015–2017, the City of Cape Town, South Africa, faced the possibility of taps running dry due to a prolonged drought. To mitigate the impacts of water scarcity, many households installed rainwater tanks to harvest water to use for non-potable purposes such as toilet flushing and washing. The installation of the rainwater tanks was mainly arbitrary, in response to perceived impact of water scarcity rather than a systematic needs assessment. This study was thus undertaken to determine the available opportunity to optimise the use of these rainwater tanks using real-time control (RTC) techniques. Many studies have demonstrated the potential of rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems to supplement potable water supply and minimize stormwater flows to downstream drainage networks. RTC technology can be used to enhance the performance of RWH systems in achieving these two objectives, by receiving a rainfall forecast and initiating pre-storm release in real time. In this study, RTC was applied on the RWH system at the New Engineering Building, University of Cape Town (UCT) to enhance water supply and increase rainwater retention period. The performance with RTC was compared with the conventional management of the RWH system. It was determined that RWH with RTC technology was generally superior in simultaneously achieving water supply and rainwater retention benefits compared to the conventional management approach. RTC provides an active operation which optimizes the performance of the system across varying conditions but requires an assiduous management process designed to meet set objectives. It was concluded that the active release mechanism employing RTC exhibited great potential; the system opens up the possibility of delivering a more robust and reliable system due to its ability to provide failure detection and centralised control. The system can readily be adapted to variation of local climatic conditions in the short and long term.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Malesela Michael Mogano, John Okedi
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