Engineers: we need to talk.

Something happened today which made me think about how we deal with ‘respect’, and the ‘old guard’ and ‘engineers’. I’m still processing what happened and many of the people I am discussing this with requests confidentiality, so maybe I’ll update this later once we agree on it all and have their permission. It did remind me of a few things, most notably a workshop on complexity we had in March 2018.

Sometimes when people ask me why Future Water exists, before I go into the transdisciplinary blah blah company line, I say that we’re trying to teach engineers to talk to other people. It started as a joke, because it was launched by a team who consisted mostly of engineers, and is currently hosted in the Engineering Faculty, but I am more and more convinced that is what our true purpose is.

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Motto in the drought

After being caught with a dirty house yet again when a film crew arrives, I decided to just embrace it ….

Embrace your inner scruffy. Design it well from the start.

It being anything from good quality odour absorbing clothes, low maintenance houses, rainwater collection devices …

Dry toilets for all, forever?

This post was developed as a submission for The Conversation. I have to rework it because “the article covers a huge amount of ground, and that there isn’t immediately a ‘golden thread’ that can be easily identified.” I like it, so it’s going to live here in its current form 🙂

When the probability of Day Zero was first announced in January 2018, the realisation that the extreme drought in Cape Town may affect the functioning of the sewer systems became apparent to everyday people. Through my work in [resource recovery from wastewaters](http://www.futurewater.uct.ac.za/FW-WWBR) and particularly how [sanitation can contribute to the circular economy](http://www.toiletboard.org/media/17-Sanitation_in_the_Circular_Economy.pdf) I have been thinking about the benefits of dry sanitation. I am intrigued by the potential of biological means to recover value from diffuse pollution. But could they ever be introduced at large scale?

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Response to an interview request 16 Feb 2018

I wrote this for a journalist a while ago. I don’t have time to make it pretty right now, but wanted this out there for a stressful presentation in a  short while. 🙂

Marcel Hartmann, science reporter for Zero Hora

Bernelle Verster, Future Water institute, University of Cape Town 16 Feb 2018

  • What are the reasons for the water shortage in Cape Town? Global warming? Population growth? Lack of environmental politics? I’d like to explain each one of them to our Brazilian readers.

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Scaling water interventions

Conversation with someone chatting to me after the UCT water crisis lecture today (by the way, this Future Water page has many interviews and chats about the crisis, in balances informed tones). I didn’t go. Was duckfood shopping with a brief stop to do retail therapy. (The stress to submit the thesis has caused insomnia and to get myself to fall asleep I have been watching, wait for it, nail art videos.) So I went buying nail art stuff. Yup. Glitterified.)

Neil’s been working on sustainable urban water management for a long time. – http://www.uwm.uct.ac.za/
His comment about the rainwater tanks (being: rain tanks are a waste of money for the amount of buffering they provide) comes from his PhD student Lloyd Fischer- Jeffes’s work, where they saw that rainwater is more expensive than stormwater harvesting and managed aquifer recharge – which is effectively a huuuuuuge rainwater tank underneath the city.

[another UCT researcher said “imagine if 1/2 a million people had 2000 litre rain tanks, that would be 1000 million litres of water buffered. ]

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Keeping the loop in mind

Presentation at the UCT Summer School, the pdf is available on the Future Water Institute website.

Kevin asked me to present on Innovations in Urban Water Management, through talking about my house. Instead I wanted to talk about systems, and took a term from the start-up scene ‘keeping the end in mind’, as in, keep your goal in mind, what you want to achieve, or what you want to sell it for. But really, we’re working with systems, and I want to focus on where these systems, these loops come full circle.

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