Uni for Mpumalanga — a first

By Dineo Phoshoko
In October 2013, the University of Mpumalanga (UMP) was officially launched, making it the first recognised university in the province. A year later, Lusted Plumbing was contracted to work on the entire scope of plumbing and drainage on certain buildings of the university.

Project background

In 2010, the then Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, appointed two task teams to investigate the feasibility of establishing new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. The Mpumalanga task team submitted a favourable report in September 2011, recommending the establishment of a new university in the province.

Two years after the submission, UMP was officially launched in October 2013. The university will incorporate the infrastructure of three existing institutions: Lowveld College of Agriculture, the hospitality school at KaNyamazane, and the Siyabuswa Education Campus. Currently, the university offers twelve programmes and more programmes will be introduced in 2019.

UMP Vice Chancellor, Professor Thoko Mayekiso, said, “The university will contribute to the academic development that is needed by the youth and the growing demand for education in South Africa and the southern African region. As the only university in Mpumalanga, it will be accessible to students from as far as Swaziland and Mozambique.”

The cleaners’ pan. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoGeberit touch plate in one of the building’s toilets. Image: Dineo PhoshokoThe duct supplies. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoFire pipe and fire hose reels for the fire reticulation system. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoGeysers for hot water. Credit: Dineo Phoshoko

 The installation

Lusted Plumbing started working on the project in the middle of 2014. The plumbing company worked on six buildings at the university, starting with the first residential block (B001). Lusted Plumbing also worked on the executive admin block (NBP001), the library block (NBP002), the ICT (computer) block (NBP003), admin and multipurpose block (NBP007), and the residence and central dining block (NBP013). Work is still in progress, with completion being expected in February 2019.

Lusted Plumbing owner Llewellyn Lusted explained that the plumbing company worked closely with Delca Systems, a wet services engineering company, who came up with the design specifications for the project.

The project mainly involved the installation of domestic plumbing and sanitary drainage. This included the erecting of manholes, new sewer lines, ring feeds to all the units, and connecting to existing stormwater and sewer supplies. Overall, this project covered the entire scope of plumbing and drainage. For block B001, the following were installed: stormwater, black sewer, greywater harvesting and supply (for toilet flushing), cold water, hot water plant, and supply (to all six buildings making up this block).

Installation at block NBP003 was made up of stormwater, sewer and cold water — all internal to the building. Blocks NBP001 and NBP002 had the same installation of stormwater, black sewer, greywater supply (for toilet flushing), cold water, hot water plant, and supply — all internal to the building. The remaining two building blocks — NBP007 and NBP013 — also had a similar installation, which included stormwater, sewer, rainwater storage and supply (for toilet flushing), cold water, hot water plant, and supply.

The university also has a hotel school, which is another separate building. Van Aardt’s Plumbing, under the management of Frans van Aardt, took responsibility for this building. Most of the work done on the hotel school consisted of the installation of domestic plumbing and sanitary drainage in the main kitchen, the demo kitchen, and the hotel rooms.

Circulation pump of the ring feed for the hot water. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoGreywater system to supply water for toilet flushing only. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoA toilet in the administration building. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoA 1 000-litre Jojo tank for the greywater system. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoHeat pump for the hot water. Credit: Dineo Phoshoko

Products used during the project

“We proposed the usage of a PEX piping system for the hot/cold/grey/rainwater systems, based on our desire for a system with a good low-maintenance track record, as well as removing any temptation of theft of any copper or brass supplies from the project,” explains Clint Morck, the wet services engineer from Delca Systems.

Geberit’s Mepla was agreed on by both engineer and contractor (this is an NEC3 contract whereby both sides of the contract are required to work in conjunction).

HDPE piping was specified for the outside of the buildings, and for the greywater collector lines in B001. “The supply of pumps was left to the contractor’s decision — in accordance with the NEC3 contract, based on our input/output requirements,” says Morck.

 Unique aspects of the project

This project has two unique features: the greywater system and the fire reticulation system. The greywater system recycles water from basins, showers, and all the washing machines. The required flushing water volume is then filtered and processed through a Biobox system. This treated water is then pumped back into the different buildings to the respective toilet cisterns. 

All systems were designed using standard norms and regulations, except for the greywater and rainwater harvesting and supply, whereby header tanks on the roofs of the buildings were supplied with either treated greywater (B001/NBP001/NBP002) or irrigation supply (NBP003 to NBP013). The greywater will be stored in 1 000-litre Jojo tanks, with their own 1kW pressure pumps, and will only be used to flush toilets.

The hot water plant and reticulation for B001 were unique in that it was decided to go with a centralised (heat pump and pressure vessel storage) plant under Block D of the formation, and ring feed the hot water to each of the six buildings’ service ducts. As a result, the lengths of the dead legs in the hot water supply were reduced.

The paraplegic toilet. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoGranite handbasin at the hotel school’s main kitchen. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoHydrosphere and sump for the backup fire pump. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoBackup fire water supply system. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoWater network supply from the roof to the building. Credit: Dineo Phoshoko

Backup water supply

The university has their own supply reservoirs (3ML and 0.9ML) for backup water supply. “I am of the opinion that this storage volume has been projected to handle a two-day storage for the entire campus, once fully developed, due to the bulk water supply having been designed by a different engineer,” explains Morck.

Fire reticulation and greywater/rainwater system

Morck explains that the fire reticulation was handled by a separate fire consultant and is specific to each building, all pulling any necessary supply from the bulk water line through the campus. This draw (should there be no fires in the next few years) will only impact the initial filling up of the storage units.

“Regarding the rainwater harvesting, this university campus is very unique in that it has its own irrigation supply servicing the dams on the property, the supply of which is then used throughout the Lower Campus (and future campuses) for irrigation,” Morck says. “Now we have added the additional usage of supply (via filtration) for toilet flushing to all of the buildings with units numbering above 10 WCs — thereby saving an effective 4.5ℓ per flush cost from the UMP utility bill over time.”

Project challenges

With a project of this magnitude, challenges are to be expected. Deadlines, pressure from the community, and student strikes were among the challenges that were encountered during the project. The plumbing company worked closely with a community liaison officer, who assisted them in supporting the community as far as possible.

Delays on orders, no stock, and discontinued products also added to the challenges of the project. “There is a lot of the specifications they’ve used that have been discontinued,” Lusted explains. Other delays were also experienced on stock specifications of the more exclusive finishes, such as basin mixers for the vice chancellor’s building.

In Lusted’s view, working closely with the building contractor, Norse Projects, as well as the architect and the wet services engineer, helped work through the challenges in the best way possible. “We just worked through it and made it happen,” Lusted says. 

Handbasin in the public toilets. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoUrinals in the male toilets. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoCommunal kitchenette. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoPot sink with a pull-out sink hose in the hotel school’s demo kitchen. Credit: Dineo PhoshokoThe handbasins in the public toilets. Credit: Dineo Phoshoko

Impact on sustainability and electrical usage

All buildings generating hot water, except NBP001 where conventional geysers were used, would be saving money by using heat pumps for hot water generation (as opposed to the minimum 50% SANS requirement).

With regard to sustainability, all buildings have been designed to be as energy efficient as possible, within reason, taking budgets into account.

Although the project is still ongoing, so far everything is on track despite the various challenges that have been experienced. On 12 May 2018, 237 students graduated from the university — making them the first graduates from UMP. More graduates are expected in future once the university has been completed.

Professional team

Main contractor

Norse Projects

Plumbing contractor

Lusted Plumbing

Wet services engineer

Delca Systems

Project manager


August 2019

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