REstoration | Community

WaterWise Ways

Fix ‘n Learn & Artificial Wetlands

WaterWise Ways Artificial Wetlands System


De Rust, Dysselsdorp, Oudtshoorn


2018 – 2021


Trapsuutjies, Oudtshoorn Municipality, DOB Ecology

Total number of households with leaks fixed

Total number of leaks fixed

Total number of workshops held

Total number of households attending the workshops

Total number of jobs created (current + historic)

Project Objective

To increase the efficiency of water use in towns by:

  • Facilitating behavioural change interventions;
  • Increasing knowledge about the importance of water;
  • Introducing efficient water technologies; and
  • Influencing local municipalities to adopt water-wise approaches.

Activities and deliverables

  • Repair of leaking pipes, taps and toilets in 1,000 households
  • Reduced water use coupled with reduced water bills at household level
  • Seven local people trained and empowered as municipal water wardens
  • One additional constructed wetland at municipal sewage works
  • Overflow from the municipal sewage works meeting standards for discharging effluent into natural waterways

Project Implementation

Several activities/sub-projects have been undertaken to achieve these objectives. They were done in a phased approach over three separate areas with the support and partnership of local municipalities and communities.

Fix ‘n Learn

Fix ‘n Learn is an initiative within the WaterWise Ways (WWW) project that seeks to fix leaking taps and cisterns in indigent households, whilst simultaneously educating these indigent communities and individuals about the value of water security, and saving water.

The project has a team of staff known as “Water Wardens”, who are the task team responsible for going to the indigent houses and fixing the leaks.

Along with other WWW staff, the Water Wardens then conduct the water-saving community workshops in conjunction with the repair work. Attendance of the workshops is mandatory for each household who wishes to have leaks repaired – this incentivises individuals and households to not only benefit from the service but to learn about water-saving at the same time.

These activities contribute to marked water savings at a household level in indigent communities – saving the individuals and local municipality in costs, whilst contributing to water security in these drought-stricken areas.

The initiative builds on the former “Township War on Leaks” project (2014-201; Oudtshoorn and Mosselbay), which conducted 9 community workshops and water audits in more than 500 households, and repair of leaking taps and pipes. Basic repairs and maintenance were also taught to members of the participating households. Cape Nature (Oudtshoorn) was a partner to this initiative.

Constructed Wetland

The Constructed Wetland is a pilot project whereby an artificial/constructed wetland is built in the final treatment dam of a municipal wastewater treatment facility. The constructed wetland is created through phytoremediation: a biological process carried out by certain wetland plants. In phytoremediation different types of (wetland) plants can be used to take up (and in most cases stabilize or destroy) contaminants in the water ( a process referred to as “scrubbing”).

The WWW artificial wetland has constructed floating rafts that support specific wetland plants that are very effective at phytoremediation. These rafts are distributed along the waterways of the final treatment dam at the Dysseldorp municipal wastewater treatment facility. The green biomass of the plants grows above the rafts, while the roots hang down into the wastewater. The plants remove the contaminants through their root systems.

Through this mechanism the addition of the Constructed Wetland in the municipal wastewater treatment facility endeavours to improve downstream river health and purify the water for agricultural use.