University of Pretoria; The Water Academy, Knysna


University of Pretoria; The Water Academy, Knysna

In 2011 Festo Didactic started a private public partnership (PPP) project with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), initiating a project to provide staff of water and wastewater treatment plants in South Africa with practical skills for professionally handling the water processes.

To this end, Festo Didactic and the Institute for Sanitary Engineering, Water Quality and Solid Waste Management of the University of Stuttgart developed a modular training equipment for practical training in the water sector - the EDS® (Environmental Discovery System) Water Management. Based on the EDS® Water Management they designed hands-on training courses that allow experiencing the core processes of water management and providing an authentic understanding on how water treatment, water supply, wastewater disposal and wastewater treatment work in reality.

Together with the project partner in South Africa, the University of Pretoria and the Water Academy in Knysna, the training courses were adapted to the requirements of the different target groups: University students, technical staff and managers of water and wastewater treatment plants. The Water Academy has adopted the EDS® Water Management as a part of a 50-day training programme for unemployed young people. 117 participants were trained for working in the water sector. The University of Pretoria has integrated the practical training courses into the syllabus of academic studies.

At the Water Institute of South Africa's (WISA) conference in Mbombela in May 2014 the results of the project were presented by the project partners:

Prof. Dr.- Ing. Heidrun Steinmetz, the Chair of Sanitary Engineering and Water Recycling from the University of Stuttgart, spoke on Resource Oriented Sanitation, stating that wastewater is not waste, but rather a resource. She showed that the water demand of the world is steadily increasing and that we need a paradigm change to save costs, recycle energy and conserve our resources in the future.

It is from this perspective that the EDS® Water Management is teaching current and future water professionals how to run water and wastewater treatment plants in a sustainable way and optimise resources. Ms. Yvonne Salazar, representing Festo Didactic GmbH presented on the results of the Festo-GIZ development partnership and the success of the EDS® Water Management.

Proving the success of the project, Carl Sandrock and Paul Sonnendecker from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Pretoria presented on "Teaching Open Loop Dynamic of a High Tower using the EDS® Water Management equipment of Festo Didactic". Third year students were able to interact with a working real-time system and learn the process dynamics beyond simulation. Results of testing before and after using the experiential learning showed an increased understanding amongst the students.

Mr. Peter Maurer, Technical Operations Manager of the Treatment Plant for Education and  Research at the University of Stuttgart, did a hands-on presentation to an enthusiastic audience on the new Rapid Sand Filtration module of the EDS® Water Management. As one of the participants explained, "For the first time we can see what is going on inside, usually it (the equipment) is too big and one cannot see inside".

Mr. Horst Weinert, Festo Didactic Manager for South Africa, stated that "The results of this project are extremely encouraging, both for the local water industry but also for other countries who need to train water professionals to manage and protect their water resources into the future."

  • Prof. EMN Chirwa,
    University of Pretoria
    Pretoria 0002
    South Africa
  • Kevin Treffry-Goatley
    The Water Academy
    P O Box 355
    Knysna 6570
    South Africa